Allen colleges may have useful resource officers in upcoming college yr – American Press

The Allen Parish School Board is located at 111 West 7th Ave. in Oberlin. (Special to the American Press)

The Allen Parish School Board approved an agreement Monday with the Allen Parish Sheriff’s Office to place school resource officers in parish schools for the 2022-2023 school year.

The plan is to have four full-time armed school resource officers and two Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) officers to rotate to all of the schools in the parish, according to Superintendent Kent Reed.

“This is something we have been talking about for sometime, long before Uvalde, Texas happened,” Reed said. “We want to put people’s minds at ease and let them know that the safety of our students and staff is our number one priority.”

“The main thing we want is for them to be a presence in our schools,” Reed said, adding that school administrators will still be in charge of the schools and any disciplinary measures.

A recent survey of 1,100 parents, staff and students found that 87 percent were in favor of having officers in the school, while 7 percent were “maybe” responses and 6 percent were against having the officers on campus, Reed said.

Sheriff Doug Hebert III said one resource officer has been hired and is undergoing training. Three additional officers are expected to be hired by the start of school on Aug. 12, he said.

“It is really just more than being a police officer,” Hebert said.

The primary duty of the school resource officers is to protect the life of students, staff members and visitors on the campus from imminent threat or bodily harm from another person. The officers will also assist with emergency preparedness, lock down drills, safety awareness education and interact with students.

In addition to the officers, the School Board is using Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to put cameras in all classrooms and considering controlled entrances for every school, according to Supervisor of Child Welfare, Attendance, Transportation and Special Services Kenney Courville.

The school resource officer program will be funded under a joint service agreement between the School Board and Sheriff’s Office at no cost to the public.

Under the plan, the Sheriff’s Office and School Board will split the costs of adding the school resource positions to cover every school in the parish on a rotating schedule, including the alternative school. Most officers will be assigned to two schools.

The Sheriff’s Office and School Board will split the employment costs for the officers which is estimated at $220,561.44 annually.

The Sheriff’s Office will pay for uniforms, vehicle, car insurance, cell phones, portable radios and training.

The officers will be assigned to patrolling or other duties when school is not in session, according to Hebert.

The officers will be required to be post certified, attend a basic 40-hour training session and an 80-hour advanced session and have a minimum of two years law enforcement experience.

Voters in Allen Parish narrowly rejected a proposal in 2013 to increase property taxes to pay for school resource officers. The millage was defeated by a vote of 1,141 to 1,042, or 52 percent against.

The 10-year, 7.5 mill property tax would have generated $630,000 annually to hire, train and equip officers and provide for security upgrades for the parish’s public schools.