Two SROs leave school
Two School Resource Officers have left the SRO program. One, John Langham, returned to working full time in the Police Department. One, Mike Lira, left the department.
A new officer, Rich Langford, was placed in the schools this week joining Rick Helmer, who was one of three SRO in the schools the beginning of this school year.
“I want to move in a different direction and restructure things in the SRO program,” Rick Neal, school superintendent said, adding that he did not remove, nor ask for the removal of either Lira or Langham. “I want to really thoroughly investigate how we can be safe and secure in the schools.”
The ideal situation, Neal explained, is for the SRO to be involved in the planning and process of school safety and development of being able to help throughout the district.
“We want to be more preemptive, more out in front,” Neal said, adding that as the school has added counselors to address mental health, he hopes the SRO program will also be more proactive rather than reactive.
“Over the next several months, we will have meetings,” Neal said. He plans to look at various SRO models, including the one at Bentonville and another at a school in Texas.
With four campuses and another about to be added, Neal said looking at threat assessments and providing safety for the students and staff is a priority for him and other school officials.
The School Resource Officer program in Pea Ridge began in 2007 when it was first approved at the June 2007 City Council meeting then discussed at the July School Board meeting. The first SRO was Lon Mitch Brown who began working in the schools in the fall of 2007.
In July 2008, then school superintendent Mike Van Dyke recommended to the School Board to not renew the contract with the city.
In 2012, city and school officials revisited the discussion of an SRO program and by the fall of 2012, Brown was back in the school. The program was suspended in January 2015 for the remainder of the school year.
By the fall of 2015, two school resource officers — John Langham and Tracy Reynolds — were in the schools.
In April 2018, school and city officials agreed to add a third SRO and placed Mike Lira in the schools. Officials also said they were considering adding a fourth officer.
Requests for a comment from city officials did not receive a response.