Aug. 15—The East Buchanan School District has another layer of security this school year with the addition of a second school resource officer.
The district has partnered with Clinton County to provide a full-time school resource officer who will oversee the East Buchanan elementary and high school buildings in Gower. The middle school in Easton has an SRO provided by Buchanan County.
Superintendent Dr. John Newell said recent national events, such as the Uvalde school shooting, have brought school security to the forefront of everyone's mind. He said an SRO will be able to provide additional security in situations both big and small.
"Just to have another person here that's going to be eyes, that's going to be ears, that's sole job is to look for anything that's off and help us have a more secure campus ... there's so many benefits for the district besides just the obvious ones of providing security in the worst situations," Newell said.
The SRO's duties will include building relationships with students, crisis intervention and dealing with health and safety concerns. Newell said there are many non-crisis situations where it can be beneficial to have a law enforcement presence on campus, such as quick response time to medical or mental health emergencies.
"Safety and security take first place over everything else that we do in a school district," Newell said.
The new SRO is Det. Chelsea Smith, who will have gone through basic training and be at East Buchanan schools on the first day of school on Aug. 22. Clinton County Sheriff Larry Fish said there will be other layers of training as time goes on.
Providing schools in Clinton County with an SRO is something Fish has been striving for since he took office, and he said he's excited about this partnership with East Buchanan.
"We're ecstatic," Fish said. "We're happy to have the opportunity. We're hoping, praying that everything will run completely smoothly and that this is something that's going to be long-term."
The partnership came to be when Newell called Fish early in the summer asking if there would be any interest in an SRO at the Clinton County Sheriff's Office. They did some research and took the idea to the county commissioners and the school board, and both groups were both in favor. The school board ratified the idea at their July meeting.
"There have been absolutely zero roadblocks," Newell said. "The question hasn't been, 'Can we do this?' It's been, 'What do we need to do to make this happen?' That's just a really great feeling to know we have that support in the community, in the county, and that everybody's behind this effort."
East Buchanan currently has a one-year contract to have the SRO but is hoping for this to be a long-term partnership. All of the supplies for Smith is being paid for by the county while her salary and benefits are provided by East Buchanan School District.
Years ago, there had been SROs in Clinton County, but Fish said the funding had dried up and the program was done away with. Now, he hopes to soon be able to provide SROs to the Lathrop and Plattsburg school districts, as well.
Morgan Doyle can be reached at email@example.com