Bingham named new Forest School District SROBy JAMES PHILLIPS,
Forest Municipal School District will start the new school year with enhanced security as the school district continues to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to ensuring the safety of all students.
During the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents Conference held in Biloxi last month agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation spoke to all Mississippi school superintendents concerning school safety and precautionary measures. Forest Municipal School District has worked hard over the summer, and the preceding six years, to beef up security at all three of the district’s schools and will continue evolving with even better security in the future. Forest Municipal School Superintendent Dr. Joseph White has made school safety a top priority and will settle for nothing short of every student within the school district having a safe learning environment every day when attending school.
One of the most significant security upgrades at Forest schools is the addition of a full-time school resource officer. After completing the previous school year without the services of a full-time SRO district officials made it a top priority to find and hire a new SRO before the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.
During the summer the school district hired officer Coshune Bingham as the districts full-time SRO for all three district schools. Bingham is a Seargent with the Forest Police Department and has served the citizens of Forest for over three years. Sargent Bingham is looking forward to serving the school district and protecting all students.
After graduating from Clark Atlanta University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice Bingham began his law enforcement career in corrections as the STG Investigator at East Mississippi Correctional Facility in Mehan. He then joined Meridian Police Department where he served on the police force for six years prior to joining the Forest Police Department. Bingham has earned the rank of Sargent with FPD and will remain on the force in a part-time capacity as he focuses on his new SRO position with the Forest School District.
Bingham officially started on July 23 and is excited about the school year starting. “Dr. White and the school district have given me a great opportunity and I’m very excited to work with the district officials, school administrators, teachers, parents and students on a daily basis,” said Bingham. “The district staff, administrators and all of the teachers have been very receptive to me and I know that the district went a whole year without a serious incident and my goal is to continue that through this school year and the years to come.”
Bingham believes that communication is key to keeping the school environment as safe as possible and will institute a new program to help the confidential flow of information. “I will be starting a ‘See Something, Say Something’ program through a drop-box system that will allow students and/or parents to provide me with information on any threat they may hear or see,” Bingham said. Getting the information to Officer Bingham is the key so that he can intervene in any threat as soon as possible and he understands that students and parents are his eyes and ears when it comes to possible threats against students. “Students and parents are my best source for information and the quicker I have information the quicker I can take action and nip-it-in-the-bud,’ Bingham said.
Bingham wants parents and students to have an open line of communication with him at all times. If parents, students or anyone in the community has any questions or needs to report information he can be reached by telephone at 601-934-8094.
In addition to hiring Sargent Bingham as the new SRO the school district has taken additional steps to provide a safer environment for its students by implementing a single point of entry at all district schools. “All three district schools now have a one entry point for admitting all visitors and anyone visiting one of our schools will have to be buzzed in by someone in the main office,” said Dr. Clark. Any visitors that visit the school will have to notify the office through the door-bell system and wait for a school official to unlock the door so that you can gain entry. “The single-entry system adds an additional layer of security for our students and school staff members, and ensures we are aware of anyone that is attempting to gain access to one of our schools,” says Dr. White.
In addition to the new safety measures Dr. White and Sargent Bingham want to make all parents and visitors aware of the new campus parking ticket policy that will begin this school year. Beginning this year parking citations will be issued to any drivers that park in areas that are posted as “no parking”, “tow away zone” and “emergency vehicle lanes”. The school district has had a growing problem of these no parking areas being used and blocked by parents and visitors to the school and when these posted areas are blocked it causes safety concerns for the schools. “All areas on campus that are posted as no parking areas or emergency vehicle lanes are there for a reason and it all has to do with the safety of the students and faculty,” Bingham said. “If someone parks in a designated ‘No Parking’ area they will receive a Forest Police Department parking citation no matter how short of a time they plan to be parked in that spot.”
Dr. White has found that illegal parking on school campuses has been a problem that has gone unchecked for years and as a result the problem has gotten worse with time. “Parents and visitors must understand that designated emergency vehicle lanes and ‘no parking’ areas are there for a reason and that reason is to ensure access to students and faculty in the case of an emergency,” said White. “This has been a growing problem in the past few years and this year we will take steps to correct these continued parking violations.”