A proposal to provide school resource officers (SROs) to protect school children was presented to Overton County School Board members by the Livingston Police Department at last week’s meeting.
Livingston Police Chief Greg Etheredge introduced a proposition for the police department to hire seven or eight full-time SROs, one for each school within the Overton County School System. In the proposal, the school board was asked to fund SROs at $30,000 per year, per school.
“This isn’t about the money,” Etheredge said. “It’s about protecting the kids and trying to do it in a way that would be both beneficial to the schools, students and the city.”
In addition to the $30,000 per year, the proposal included a request for the school board to provide transportation, a radio and a Taser for each SRO.
According to Etheredge, the department plans to use grant monies toward the new SROs if made available. Any possible future grant monies were not specified during the session.
Also present at the meeting was Mayor Curtis Hayes in support of the plan.
“We have an obligation to protect the kids in this community,” Hayes said. “As far as the council goes, I’m prepared to make a called meeting in the next 24 hours in order to get this through.”
There are currently two SROs funded by the city and school board, with the board contributing $7,500 for each one, according to Etheredge. However, unlike the additional SROs described in Etheredge’s proposal, the current SROs are part-time and not solely hired for serving a particular school.
According to Etheredge, under the plan each SRO would work at a specifically assigned school and would be under a three-year contract for that work assignment. The SRO would be responsible for any school-related functions after hours too, and would only have jurisdiction on the school’s campus.
Board members decided to put the issue on the agenda for an upcoming work session. Members also planned to extend the idea of SROs to the Overton County Sheriff’s Department and to request Sheriff W.B. Melton to attend that session.