Rocky Fork Enterprise

School resource officers

Council mulls contract to have two on duty at high school

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Gahanna City Council is considering a contract with the Gahanna-Jefferson school district for two law-enforcement officers to be assigned to Lincoln High School as school resource officers.

Council discussed the contract during April 28 committee meetings. Under a new contract, the city would invoice the school district monthly for half of the services rendered, with the total invoiced for the 2014-15 school year at $134,625.76 for the high school SRO program. That's an increase of $5,957.58 from the 2013-14 school year contract.

The contract would be effective July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015. The existing contract expires June 30.

Police Chief Dennis Murphy said the increase from last year is because of union contract increases and benefits.

The primary function of the SRO is to provide a safe and secure learning environment, reduce crime, serve as an educational resource and serve as a liaison between the high school and division of police, according to the contract.

The schedule the SROs normally work is from 7:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Mondays through Fridays during the school year.

Murphy said two good SROs currently serve the high school.

Council president Brian Larick asked if officers move on in career concept, leaving an SRO position.

Murphy said the officers in those positions are monitored closely.

"We want to make sure we have the right mesh of people in the school," he said.

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

Council also is considering an advance of $19,320 from the general fund to the police-duty weapons fund.

Finance director Jennifer Teal said the weapons fund was established to provide firearms to officers who want to purchase their own in lieu of accepting general-issue handguns.

The weapons are purchased by the city out of the weapons fund, and participating officers establish a payroll deduction to repay the city for the purchase of the firearms over one year.

Because weapons are purchased in advance of the payroll deductions, Teal said, the city faces some risk that the balance of the weapons fund to become negative, especially early in the year and if a number of officers participate.

In an effort to maintain a positive fund balance, an advance from the general fund is required to "front load" the weapons fund, Teal said.

Closer to the end of the year, when payroll deductions have been made to the weapons fund, the finance department will bring forward legislation to repay the general fund for this advance, Teal said. Moving forward, she said, the finance department will include the transactions in the annual appropriations.

Council member Tom Kneeland asked if a limit is set on the number of requests.

"The new guys get the picks first," Murphy said. "Weapons do wear out over time. It's used very efficiently."

Typically, he said, a rifle might cost $1,200.

Teal also presented council with a first-quarter financial review. The complete report is online at gahanna.gov.

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