Wal­ton County to pro­vide school re­source of­fi­cer to So­cial Cir­cle schools

The Covington News - - LOCAL - KAYLA ROBINS krobins@cov­news.com

So­cial Cir­cle school stu­dents will be see­ing a new face in uni­form help­ing them cross roads and stay safe.

The So­cial Cir­cle City Schools Board of Ed­u­ca­tion voted to have the Wal­ton County Sher­iff’s Of­fice pro­vide a school re­source of­fi­cer be­gin­ning in the 2014-2015 school year in­stead of the So­cial Cir­cle Po­lice Depart­ment (SCPD).

Al­though the SCPD had been pro­vid­ing an of­fi­cer since 2005, when the depart­ment was formed, the school board voted against the So­cial Cir­cle City Coun­cil’s rec­om­men­da­tion to stay with them and raise the re­im­burse­ment rate.

SCPD asked for an in­crease to $36,000 from $16,000 in re­im­burse­ment to have an of­fi­cer at the mid­dle and high school, while Wal­ton County will charge $43,000.

“They of­fer us a lot more than what the city can of­fer, and that’s just due to size and per­son­nel,” said Todd McGhee, So­cial Cir­cle City School su­per­in­ten­dent.

Dur­ing the reg­u­lar school year, the Sher­iff’s Of­fice will pro­vide a school re­source of­fi­cer, a school in­ves­ti­ga­tion of­fi­cer, su­per­vis­ing of­fi­cers and drug ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram of­fi­cers.

McGhee said board mem­ber had been tak­ing mul­ti­ple com­plaints from par­ents and con­cerned cit­i­zens about traf­fic near the schools and dan­ger­ous in­ter­sec­tions.

So­cial Cir­cle Mayor Hal Dally said as the fis­cal year just be­gan, it had been ap­proved to add one more per­son to ac­count for the school re­source of­fi­cer, but the per­son who was to fill that role will con­tinue the job of a po­lice of­fi­cer. “No one is los­ing a job,” Dally said. SCPD has two uni­formed of­fi­cers on duty for 12-hour shifts, and they were also us­ing an of­fi­cer at schools in the morn­ings and af­ter­noons to act as a cross­ing guard.

Terry Sose­bee, po­lice chief for So­cial Cir­cle, said the school board had the op­tion to use an of­fi­cer from SCPD, from Wal­ton County or from a self-cre­ated and funded school po­lice depart­ment.

“There’s real ad­van­tages to be­ing in­volved in the pro­gram and in­volved in the com­mu­nity. The school re­source of­fi­cer makes a lot of con­tacts we wouldn’t make other­wise,” Sose­bee said.

He said the tran­si­tion from the city to the county depart­ment is nei­ther pos­i­tive nor neg­a­tive, that it was just some­thing that needed to be fig­ured out.

“I’m sure the Sher­iff’s Of­fice will do quite well,” Sose­bee said, “and we will def­i­nitely be there to sup­port them and the school sys­tem with any­thing that may hap­pen in the fu­ture.”

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