The Bartow County School System has its own campus police department and maintaining a safe environment for its students is both well-orchestrated and well-planned.
“Most recently, after the Sandy Hook [Elementary School in Connecticut] tragedy, we did a campus by campus safety assessment, covering many facets,” said Bartow County School Campus police Chief Dan Knowles. “Several deficiencies noted have been corrected or systems added. Most importantly were access control devices and the addition of emergency notification buttons. Each school has a button that can be activated that calls 911 to send law enforcement.”
Knowles has led the department since 2005, and although he has three daughters with wife Vicky and two grandchildren, he counts the nearly 14,000 students attending schools in the district among his own as well.
Given the warranted concerns of parents, Knowles said it is important to let them know how he and his staff of officers work to insure the safest learning environment possible.
“We have installed safety control devices, update and implement our school safety plans every year, added camera systems and the officers constantly train on school safety measures,” Knowles said.
Knowles, who has more than 21 years of experience in law enforcement, has lived in Bartow County since the age of 12 and long before he started his career in law enforcement in Augusta, he set out to make his mark in the military.
After high school, Knowles served in the Army and the Georgia National Guard. He continues to serve with the Georgia Air National Guard, adding more than 21 years of military service to his resume.
Through service to his country and the children of Bartow County, Knowles is a man who is committed to public safety.
“He is well-trained, experienced and knowledgeable in law enforcement and is always on the front line to protect our students and staff,” said Bartow County Schools Superintendent John Harper. “He has made an incredible difference with our school security, emergency procedures, organization of the department and our response to disasters. He is very active with our student body demonstrating leadership and support for our students. He makes certain that his staff is trained appropriately and renews that training each year.”
Knowles said that as school resource officers, he and his staff provide more than a deterrence.
“The police presence accomplishes two things: police presence is the first step of deterrence and the second letter in SRO is resource,” Knowles said.
“We are a resource for the staff and students. We are there to advise and lead students in correct decision making.”