MSD asks County for SRO officers

By Josh Sigler

MSD of Wabash County Superintendent Mike Keaffaber went before the County Council on Monday, Jan. 28, to go through the logistics of what it would look like to add the services of two school resource officers.

Keaffaber brought with him figures of what the costs might be associated with the creation of two SRO positions, one for the south schools and one for the north schools in the district, which would be under the jurisdiction of the Wabash County Sheriff’s Department.

“I believe this is a win-win for our county,” Keaffaber said. “If we would do this and have an officer on the north and an officer on the south, that would give two more officers in the county, especially for any types of emergencies outside of the schools. Plus, we have a little over 2,000 students in our six schools, and that is a percentage of our population.”

According to Keaffaber’s numbers, an SRO agreement would cost the County Council, including the car, the uniform, the weapon, the radio, and health insurance, $31,343 per officer.

The agreement would then cost the school district $41,850. Those numbers are dependent upon whether the officers would need a single insurance plan or family insurance plan.

Keaffaber described SRO agreements in other school districts.

Wabash City Schools is supplied an officer with the help of the Wabash City Council.

Peru Community Schools has a police department as part of its school district. The Peru City Council provides one officer, and the school provides the other.

North Manchester is working on a combination, where it has different officers that go into the schools.

Eastbrook Schools also has a deal in place with its council for an SRO.

Keaffaber said if this proceeds, the school district would like to have officers in place by the start of the 2019-20 school year.
The potential agreement would include the creation of new positions within the county, so it would have to go before the County’s Wage and Salary Committee.

“I just think about those relationships you build,” Keaffaber said. “Not that a shooting could not happen at our school, because it could. But, yet, being able to provide those relationships with a uniformed officer … could possibly save lives with saying they’re not going to go this direction because they have another person in the school (that they have a relationship with). … I think it would be great for that purpose, also.”

Council Chairman Kyle Bowman mirrored those sentiments.

“Building the relationships, like you mention, it may be the only positive interaction they have with law enforcement,” Bowman said. “I think that’s very important, also."

The Council also Monday:
-- Heard a request from Central Dispatch Director Sandy Beeks for the hiring of two new dispatchers. Beeks explained that her current staffed is stretched too thin. Council member Matthew Mize explained that the request would have to go before the Wage and Salary Committee, and that he would need more information, like comparisons of staffing numbers from surrounding counties, before he could make a decision.

-- Heard a request from Sheriff Ryan Baker for the hiring of a new jail officer. Baker said sometimes one officer is left to man the jail while other officers make prisoner transports. This request will also have to go before the Wabash and Salary Committee.

-- Heard a request from Baker to give jail office administrator Connie Rich the title of matron. The jail cook had most recently held that title, but Baker wanted to make the change to better align what the two’s job descriptions are.

Posted on 2019 Feb 05