Sheriff looking to place resource officer at school
BALDWIN — If everything goes according to Lake County Sheriff Rich Martin’s plan, Baldwin Community Schools could have a resource officer on the grounds beginning in January.
A resource officer would be provided by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
“Most people feel having a resource officer is just having a cop in the school to provide law enforcement and to look for things which are wrong, but it is the opposite. They are there to build relationships between kids and officers, to build trust and stop incidents before they happen. We have a stance on keeping kids safe in the community,” Martin said.
Funding a full-time school resource officer would cost $100,000, but because of school breaks, when students are not in attendance, a full-time officer is not considered to be necessary when students are not in attendance. The school has committed $30,000 to cost share for the officer’s position, leaving a balance of $45,000 to be paid to complete the salary requirement.
Funds from the road patrol millage could pay for the officer to be on road patrol when not at the school, Martin said.
“Unfortunately, the way the road patrol millage is written per attorney, we can’t use millage funds for the officer when they are posted at the school. The remaining balance would have to be paid for by the school or by the county itself, requiring general fund money,” Martin said. “We were advised we have one-time dollars to pay for the difference, but not all commissioners are on board with the amount of money to spend on this.”
The sheriff’s office has had four discussions up to this point between the county administrator, commissioners, school board and school administrator.
“The school is kind of strapped for funds because last year’s bond proposal didn’t pass, so there is not as much money for other projects, but for the safety of kids, they still feel it is important to contribute toward an officer. At the end of the day, what is more important, pinching pennies or kids’ safety?
“For those who support a school resource officer in the school system, it is very important to contact county commissioners. We are aiming to have an officer in place the first of the year, and hope to have an agreement established to start the position,” Martin said.