State police meet-and-greet local students

Nanty Glo, Cambria County, Pa. - State police want to step up their presence in schools across Cambria County.

Troopers from the Ebensburg barracks visited Blacklick Valley Elementary School Tuesday to spend time with students and teachers, building trust and better relationships.

"We see a large majority of the kids that are afraid of us. A lot of them shy away from us,' said Trooper Robert Kunsman. "That's the first message we want to get out is, 'We're there to help them'."

Police answered tough questions from students: 'Are you here to arrest me?', 'Why do you carry a gun?' and 'What happens if there's a shooting in my school?'

"We're going to do everything we can to protect every one of you and all the teachers," said State Police Trooper Dan Sweeney.

State police will start regularly and randomly patrolling schools throughout the county to help students and teachers feel safer.

"I hate when kids say, 'Are you here to arrest me?' I don't want that feeling. I want them to talk to me like we're best friends," said Tpr. Kunsman.

These random visits will also allow troopers to keep a close eye out for anything suspicious.

"We want it to be a deterrent. We want people to know we're out here and we're going to stop something before it happens," said Tpr. Kunsman.

Kunsman said he hopes these kids won't just see a badge, a gun and a uniform, but recognize a friendly face.

"Kids should not be scared to go to school," said Tpr. Kunsman."Them seeing us, I hope it takes the edge off. I truthfully do."

State police also encourage local police departments to regularly patrol their local schools and bond with the students.

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