EATON — Eaton Community Schools welcomed two School Resource Officers (SROs) to its hallways this week: Officer Pete Wray and Officer Anthony Schmidt.
Last week, it was reported that Eaton Board of Education approved a resolution to hire two SROs, while this week, Eaton City Council approved a resolution to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Eaton School Board for the positions.
The vote passed unanimously on Monday, Aug. 19.
The resolution was to authorize the city manager to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding between the Eaton Community Schools Board of Education for the School Resource Officer Program and declaring an emergency. It states, on Aug. 12 the Board of Education authorized a School Resource Officer Program.
Eaton City Council has determined that it is in the best interest of the city and its citizens to participate in the proposed School Resource Officer Program by providing two SROs and have negotiated with the board for this service.
The resolution further states, the City of Eaton will provide two officers to serve as SROs for 40 hours per week. These officers will work on the schools campus, except when school is not in session — on those days, the SROs will patrol the City of Eaton.
The city and the superintendent of Eaton City Schools will meet annually to discuss the assignment of the personnel responsible for the implementation of this contract. The city retains the right to promote, discipline, dismiss, or assign employees as deemed appropriate.
In addition to providing the personnel, the City of Eaton will supply the SROs with all special equipment as may be required.
The School Resource Officer Program agreement states, “The School Resource Officer position for the Eaton Police Division is a contracted position with the Eaton Community Schools. The School Resource Officer’s main responsibilities are to promote safety in and around the schools by addressing crime and fear of crime.
“Serve as a liaison between the schools and outside agencies. Teach topics related to law enforcement geared toward positive student behavior. Develop and implement comprehensive safety plans or strategies, in coordination with school administrators and Eaton first responders.”
Before the vote, Eaton Superintendent Jeff Parker said, “I know this has been a fast track, here, but I want to say we are very appreciation thus far of Chief Steve Hurd. I want to thank you for your consideration. It is one of those things, we have all talked about it and we all have kids — whether or not they are still in school — it is one of those things that is very fluid. We see this as the step we have to take now.”
Council member David Kirsch added, “These resource officers, for me, are a plus for our district and our community. My daughter experienced a shooter last year. The nice thing about it was, the officers were there and were able to [respond] quickly. It is real to me. Anytime we can protect our children, it is the day and age we live in.”
Council member Joe Renner noted his support of this move, adding he believes it is “necessary,” but he also mentioned one concern he has. He is worried implementing the program this quickly, with officers already on staff, will short-staff the police department.
“I’m concerned that the structure of our police force will be thin for the next few months. I’m sure you’ve thought of that, but it is a concern I have. I’ve seen it happen with other agencies — one of them my own,” he said. “Our obligation is to the city as a whole.”
He added, he would have liked to see the program established “further down the road.”
All council members voted to approve the resolution. The two SROs were on their designated campuses when school started on Wednesday, Aug. 21.
In other business:
•Council approved a motion to concur with City Manager Brad Collin’s recommendation to appoint Daniel Gray to Public Maintenance Supervisor, as Greg Frost retired effective July 31.
•Council approved a resolution authorizing the city manager to apply for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) through the Economic Development Grant Program administered by the Ohio Development Services Agency for the North Barron Street Waterline and Sanitary Sewer Extension Project.
Eaton City Council will hold its next meeting on Monday, Sept. 16, at 6 p.m. in the Eaton City Building.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH