TIPP CITY — A School Resource Officer program is being finalized for the Tipp City Exempted Village Schools, the only district in Miami County without SROs.
Police Chief Greg Adkins and Deputy Chief Jack Davis spoke last week to Tipp City Council and then to the schools’ board of education about the proposed program, which will require the hiring of two new police officers.
Members of city council voiced support for the hiring and the program. The board of education voted unanimously to approve a memorandum of understanding between the board, the city council and police department in consultation with the school board’s lawyer.
Tipp City Mayor Mike McFarland told fellow council members the program is needed.
“Unfortunately, we live in a time when anything can happen in our schools,” he said.
Davis told the board of education a program designed to help make the schools safer was developed following discussions with administrators, including principals at all five schools. In addition to the enhanced police presence, the program includes more technology, infrastructure improvements and more staff training, including on communication.
The schools at first requested six SROs, which was not feasible, Adkins said. To be able to provide the program with one SRO each at the high school and middle school, the department will need to increase its staffing from the current 21 full-time officers to 23 officers, Adkins said.
The department now provides off-duty officers who work four-hour shifts at overtime rates covering the five school buildings. The schools pay 80 percent of the bill and the city 20 percent.
Under the proposal, the schools would pay nine months of each officer’s salary, with the city paying the balance. The estimated total cost per officer per year for the schools would be up to $89,447 with the city anticipated cost of $28,000 per officer. The off-duty officer contract would be replaced by the SRO program.
Two current officers would be selected for the SRO jobs, with those selected attending training in June to begin work at the schools in the fall.
The police department now has a DARE officer (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) assigned to the L.T. Ball Intermediate School. This program would continue. The SROs would also visit the elementary schools on a regular basis, Davis said.
The SROs would be available onsite for security needs and work to get to know students and build rapport with them.
“The benefits of having them in school buildings is they are here when we need them, and able to help us immediately,” said Lisa Tuttle-Huff, the schools’ human resources director. “The money is being spent. We might as well have them in-house,” she said.
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