Commissioners move forward with resource officer program
Friday, January 24, 2014 10:00 AM
The Jefferson Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed Thursday to collaborate with the Madison and Southwestern schools to fully implement a school resource officer program at the schools.
Both school districts have received $50,000 grants from the state to fund the project but need to match that contribution dollar for dollar. The grant is for one year but that application process for 2015 will open later this year.
Under the pending memorandum of understanding, the county would contribute $10,000 to both school districts and the sheriff's department would provide vehicles and equipment.
The one-year deal is contingent on approval from the County Council.
The resource officers serve as law enforcement, informal counselors and educators for the students, each school's safety specialist told the commissioners Thursday.
The town of Hanover has agreed to send two special deputies to Southwestern and cover the vehicles, training and equipment. Meanwhile, the city of Madison already has assigned Lt. Dan Slygh to MCS and contributed $10,000 to the school's grant match.
Sheriff John Wallace offered a similar deal Thursday for Madison's second resource officer - which would be considered a special deputy with a flat salary and no insurance.
"I spoke to some officers who are ready to retire or going to retire that would be interested in this," he said.
While each of the commissioners agreed with the concept of the program, they worried about the timing of the request because the county 2014 budget has been locked in for months.
"That's the biggest thing that has put us in a bind for this year," Commissioner president Mark Cash said.
Additionally, the commissioners voiced concerned over the amount of funding. They noted that providing a car, training and equipment for the schools is already a commitment of several thousands of dollars.
While he said he was hesitant to spend taxpayer's money, Commissioner Bob Little made the motion to go forward with the program, calling it a "no-brainer."
"I don't think you can put a price on any child's life," Little said.
Danny Kellams, who works as a resource officer for Southwestern, explained his role inside the schools. He said the Hanover Police Department already has reaped the benefits of having an officer at the facilities interacting with the students on a daily basis.
"I hate to see another child or a family suffer through a shooting because we didn't have this program in place," Kellams said.
Also during the meeting, the commissioners held their annual Board of Finance hearing when Treasurer Linda Greene presented the latest financial numbers.
The county has more than $15 million in the bank and earned more than $126,000 from its investments in 2013, Greene reported.
Greene said the county had tax sales on 40 properties last year for more than $686,000.
The commissioners voted Tom Pietrykowski as the finance board president this year and Greene as he secretary. Little was the president last year.
In other business:
The county approved a bid from Terry's Heating & Cooling to replace a heat exchange unit at the Jefferson County Jail. The old exchange unit was wearing down, Wallace said. The bid is for more than $36,000. The County Council will need to approve the funding.
The commissioners approved two grants presented from county Emergency Management Director Dave Bell. The grants, which totaled $11,000, will go toward Hazmat suits and radio equipment.
The commissioners appointed Stephanie Hellman to serve on the Southern Indiana Recycling District.
The commissioners appointed Trevor Crafton to serve on the Southern Indiana Regional Planning Committee.