Upper Arlington News

UA police, schools join forces to provide school resource officer

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Upper Arlington schools and the city's police division have struck a new partnership to provide a school resource officer to the district.

Within the next month, officer Jon Rice will begin working with students, staff and parents in the Upper Arlington school district.

Rice, who has 20 years in law enforcement and has been a member of the Upper Arlington Police Division since August 2006, primarily will be assigned to Upper Arlington High School.

However, he will provide security services and periodic safety instruction throughout the district's eight school buildings, in addition to being another communications liaison between students, educators and parents.

"We think this is an invaluable partnership between the police and the schools," said Karen Truett, the district's communications director. "Both agencies are out there to serve and support the community."

Although UAPD has maintained an officer who, among other duties, has sought to educate Upper Arlington students about drugs and alcohol through a local D.A.R.E. program, officials believe the new partnership marks the first time a certified school resource officer (SRO) has been established here.

Rice will receive a $72,957 base salary, according to Police Chief Brian Quinn. He also will receive approximately $45,000 in annual benefits compensation for things such as health care and workers' compensation coverage.

Because the UA police department is part of a Franklin County Drug Task Force, the city's 50-percent share of the SRO's salary and benefits will come from money and assets seized from convicted drug dealers.

The school district will fund the other half of Rice's salary and benefits. Truett and Quinn said they will look for grants to potentially offset future funding of the position.

The arrangement has allowed the UAPD to hire a new full-time officer to replace Rice on patrol duties, Quinn said.

Once the new officer is fully trained -- about four months from now -- Rice will become a full-time SRO.

"I think everybody right now envisions this establishing a sense of security in the school system," Quinn said. "He also provides another role model in the school system.

"He can be utilized wherever the schools deem him to be needed. It behooves us to have a resource officer to be aware of all the activities in the district and to be familiar with all the school staff."

Both Quinn and Truett noted that most nearby large school districts already have school resource officers in place, including those of Columbus, Dublin, Hilliard and Worthington.

"It's sort of a proactive measure and it's certainly a program in other communities," Truett said. "It's seen some positive impacts in those other communities.

"Nothing is a perfect (security) measure, but this does increase your security," she said. "It also gives students another responsible adult they can turn to."

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