SFSD: Child safety key after suspicious person arrest
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Sioux Falls School District is using Monday’s arrest of Anthony Lewis as a reminder for families to talk to their children about strangers and safety. It’s also an opportunity for them to look at their own policies and conversations they have with children.
The Sioux Falls Police Department said that incident and at Saint Mary happened on Friday last week, before Lewis was found Monday afternoon. The Department said that school resource officers are on alert, keeping an eye out for any similar actions. But it’s a reminder for kids to be cautious of those they don’t know.
District Security Coordinator David Osterquist has only been in his role at the Sioux Falls School District for a short amount of time. But he’s no stranger to school security, so he had a running start in his new role of overseeing security for the district.
“Of my nearly 25 years with the Sioux Falls Police Department, I spent 11 or more of those years in school-based policing,” Osterquist said. “The things that I learned both as a school resource officer, and then as the School Resource Supervisor the last three years my career, are very aptly carrying over into this role.”
That experience was needed this past weekend with students at Laura B. Anderson Elementary being approached by Anthony Lewis. It took the SFPD some time before they realized the two incidents on Friday were connected, owing to both happening at different schools at different times. By then, it took until Monday to find Lewis.
“We had two different officers, two different times, two different schools. And so, we had this information but we didn’t realize that they were connected.” SFPD spokesperson Officer Sam Clemens said.
Osterquist said parents should use these incidents to speak with their children about what to do if someone approaches them or makes them feel uncomfortable at, or walking to and from school.
“It’s an excellent opportunity for parents to take some time to just remind their kids that when they’re walking to and from school, pay a little bit of attention. ‘If you see something that makes you uncomfortable, please let me know as your mom, as your dad, as your guardian when you get home at night.’ So that we’re all on the same page.” Osterquist said.
Clemens said it’s important that that information gets passed along to the school district or law enforcement as soon as possible.
“And then, we get notified three or four hours later. It’s incredibly hard to try to track down anybody. If we would be notified sooner, there is a chance we maybe able to find somebody if they’re still in the area.” Clemens said.
Osterquist said the sooner a teacher, school administrator or the district knows of something that was said to a child at school or walking to and from school, the sooner they can act on it at notify law enforcement.
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