Top cop to review safety in schools

Col. Jerry Russell
Col. Jerry Russell

Gov. Butch Otter announced on Friday that Idaho’s “top cop” will review  safety in schools in wake of the Connecticut shooting where 26 children and teachers were killed.

Colonel Jerry Russell, director of the Idaho State Police, will retire on Jan. 18. He has agreed to assess and recommend possible safety and security improvements in Idaho’s public schools after his retirement. He’ll work with State Superintendent Tom Luna and local law enforcement and school leaders to analyze the state of security.

“Like everyone else, that heartbreaking tragedy made me think first and foremost about the safety of my own grandchildren and all the students in Idaho’s schools,” Gov. Otter said. “That’s why I’ve asked Idaho’s ‘top cop’ to take on one more job for me.”

Russell has served as director since January 2007. Prior to his appointment to ISP director, Russell served 26 years with the Oregon State Police rising from patrol officer to bureau commander before becoming chief security officer for Idaho’s Fourth Judicial District in 2001. He became an exercise design specialist for the Idaho Military Division in 2003, and was deputy director for operations at the Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security starting in February 2004.

Assessing and recommending security improvements at Idaho’s schools will require a thorough assessment of existing safe school laws and policies, as well as evaluating “best practices” and promising ideas being used at schools both within and outside Idaho. Russell’s focus as ISP director on building strong collaborative relationships with local law enforcement agencies throughout Idaho will help facilitate that process.

“It’s an extremely sensitive issue and an extremely important project, one that requires a great deal of attention to detail,” Russell said. “The first thing I’ll do is take a hard look at what’s out there and determine what needs to be done.”

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