Monroe approves deal that adds police officer in schools

When Monroe students go back to school Aug. 15, they will find another school resource officer on duty.

Monroe City Council approved a resolution that added a second school resource officer to protect students and staff members.

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The agreement will renew and adjust annually in accordance with the current agreement between the city and school district.

City Manager Bill Brock said the city will pay half of the officer’s annual salary and benefits and the Monroe Local School District will pay the remaining half of the salary and benefits.

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Brock said various details were being worked out on how the second school resource officer will function. He said the second school resource officer has not been identified yet, but will be in place by Aug. 15.

Discussions between city and school officials have been ongoing for several months. In April, police Chief Bob Buchanan gave council’s public safety committee a report on various options to enhance school security in the wake of several school shooting incidents around the nation.

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Buchanan said the cost of the second school resource officer’s salary and benefits would be about $105,000 a year, which would be split 50/50 between the city and the school district. He said the school district and city have a 60/40 split of the costs in the contract of the current school resource officer.

In April, Buchanan also said additional school resource officers may be needed as the city and the school district continue to grow.

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Monroe Local Schools has an enrollment of about 3,000 students and has had a school resource officer since 2002, according to Superintendent Phil Cagwin. He previously told this news outlet that he reached out to City Manager William Brock to discuss adding a second school resource officer.

During discussions in April, council members were receptive to the request in light of the tragedies elsewhere. They were also concerned with costs as well as how many would be needed as the school district is planning new facilities.

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Buchanan recommended in April that the city and school district utilize a full-time school resource officer for several reasons:

• The level of certification and ongoing professional training that this position demands requires hours outside of a part-time capacity.

• The selection of officers or security personnel for this position must be made above and beyond the measure of an individual’s ability to provide security.

• Concern over turnover that is often associated with part-time positions or private security does not lend to the stability that is needed in a school resource officer.

• The school resource officer will provide valuable police presence to the rest of the community during summer months when the call volume is traditionally higher for the police department.

• The stability that comes with students recognizing and interacting with their school resource officer helps to foster a trust that encourages them to pass on critical information to the officer on potential threats or situations at the school that they may not be compelled to provide otherwise.

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