Rocky Fork Enterprise

Contract under consideration for school resource officers

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Gahanna City Council is considering a contract for school resource officers at Gahanna Lincoln High School.

Deputy Police Chief Ken Bell asked council during last week's committee meeting to consider authorizing the mayor to enter into contract with the Gahanna-Jefferson Public School District to provide the service of two law-enforcement officers by assignment to the Gahanna Lincoln High School as school resource officers.

The current contract expires June 30.

Under the new contract, the city would bill the school district monthly for half of services rendered during the period of the contract by two officers, with the total billed for the 2013-14 school year not to exceed $128,668.18 for the high school program. The new contract represents an increase of $2,084.70 from the 2012-13 contract.

Any overtime ordered by the school would be the responsibility of the school to pay, but any overtime ordered by the city would be the city's responsibility.

Bell said school resource officers take a big burden off officers on patrol, addressing only incidents in the high school.

"They're just there during school hours," he said. "There's little impact, man-power wise. Sometimes we've had to pull officers out (of the high school). The impact is minimal if we keep them there."

Mayor Becky Stinchcomb said the officer program is a good partnership, with the schools paying half the cost.

Councilman Ryan Jolley said the program is beneficial also because it allows police officers to build a good rapport with the students.

Bell said the teachers were energetic as they went through Alert Lockdown Inform Counter Evacuate (ALICE) procedures May 13.

In partnership with Gahanna's police department, Gahanna-Jefferson staff members learned various ways to keep students safe when an instructional day was used for safety training.

"ALICE training comes from SROs headed up by Lt. Dan Williams," Bell said. "We have a third officer who's a community-oriented police officer who also served as a school resource officer. That COP also goes to the middle schools. Other than simply being at the high schools, we try to get to the other schools with that COP."

The school board in February had approved a waiver request through the Ohio Department of Education to use a 2012-13 instructional day for staff training on safety issues.

Scott Schmidt, executive director of business and school improvement, had said the district was partnering with Gahanna police and mental-health professionals to learn about what signs to look for, what help is available and best practices to avoid problems.

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