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Our View: Police presence embodies 'protect and serve' motto

One by one, the children of Sandy Hook Elementary were laid to rest beginning last week.

The massacre that resulted in their deaths represented yet another low point in contemporary American history. The killings, perpetrated by a young man who took his own life in the process, reverberated across the country as news made its way out of Newtown, Conn.

That included Woodbury.

Around town, we have seen a direct response to Sandy Hook. Last week, Woodbury Public Safety Director Lee Vague ordered a heightened police presence at all Woodbury schools.

Vague said he came to the decision through consultation with District 833 Superintendent Keith Jacobus the weekend following the Connecticut slayings.

"It seemed no response was just not right," Vague told the Bulletin last week.

The reason for the increased police presence, he explained, was not to create a sense of alarm - a possibility Vague said he was keenly aware of - but rather to provide reassurance to parents shaken by the tragedy at Sandy Hook that their children were being watched over.

"Our intentions were certainly good," Vague said.

We have no doubt they were.

He's likely not interested in creating a police state at local schools. Vague took action in response to the mood of the community and a nation.

We support Vague's notion to provide a measure of relief to parents. Staging officers in and around the schools was a step that didn't have to be taken, but was.

Vague has wisely sidestepped questions about whether the heightened presence will remain. Though it will tamp down, a presence of some sort - building visits, regular patrols - will be part of the mix moving forward, he said.

This isn't creating security checkpoints at school entrances. This is an extension of community policing.

It's the department saying "we are looking out for you; we'll be around." We believe this personifies the "to protect and serve" motto of law enforcement.

While we grieve along with the rest of the nation for the students of Sandy Hook, we also give thanks to those sworn to protect us in the worst of times.