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School Resource Officer likely to start in January

School Resource Officer likely to start in January

October 10th, 2018 by Liz Morales, emorales@californiademocrat.com in Local News

California High School

Photo by David Wilson /News Tribune.

The California School District was ahead of 90 percent of schools across the country this spring by way of security preparedness, said Nick Spencer, a representative of Strategos International, during a security-based lecture and training session for members of the California School District staff.

Even though the school district is at the top of its game in keeping students safe from outside dangers, Strategos International knows it cannot be too careful.

Talk about hiring a school resource officer (SRO) began during summer to keep students in California safe. The idea was to have an SRO to patrol each school building to ensure safety from a shooter or other forms of violence that could take place.

Recently, Moniteau County Sheriff's Office and the California School Board of Education met to discuss plans to hire such a person. Superintendent Dwight Sanders expressed his concerns at the Sept. 19 school board meeting.

"We took a look at what it would look like, if the SRO partnered with the county," Sanders said. "Obviously, the city has jurisdiction over the city and the county would have jurisdiction over the county. Looking at that, there are a pretty good percentage of our students that live outside the city limits."

It was thought the SRO position would be handled between the school district and the city. A change to this was made at the Sept. 19 board of education meeting. Instead, the SRO will work with the county and the school district. Since the last meeting, Sanders has made amendments to the board's memorandum of understanding, which will be reviewed and likely finalized within the sheriff's office later this week.

Moniteau County Sheriff Tony Wheatley said the SRO will likely be put in place by January 2019 due to the county budget approval schedule.

"We first have to hire the SRO and then send them to training," Wheatley said. "Then, we have to wait until the county budget is approved in January to add this line item to it."

Wheatley said the annual salary for the position will come from the school and part of it will be paid through a grant through the sheriff's office.

"The SRO has to attend the mandatory training, as required by the Missouri Peace Officer Standards and Training, to continue to hold their law enforcement credentials," Wheatley said. "The sheriff's office already supplies this for all its deputies."

Any special schools that the individual may attend, Wheatley said, will be decided by the school and the sheriff's office and be paid for with money already in the line item budget for that position.

As the SRO must complete training, so must staff, faculty and students of the California School District.

"The SRO will also handle the training held at the school, such as drug awareness and active shooter, and will be working with the school on any other programs that may be needed, such as updating their emergency plans, school security and et cetera," Wheatley said.

The plan is to have the SRO position filled by the beginning of the calendar year. The delay in filling the position is because of the county's budget approval schedule.