The Carson City School Board unanimously voted to accept the Sheriff’s Office School Resource Officer grant at the school board meeting Tuesday night.
Recently, the Carson City Sheriff’s Department was awarded a $375,000 grant from the Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing to be able to hire school resource officers for Carson City schools, but they needed approval from the School Board and Board of Supervisors to accept the grant.
Sheriff Ken Furlong and Chief Financial Officer Kathie Heath presented a PowerPoint to the members of the school board about the grant and what it would entail for the schools. The grant would allow the department to hire three entry-level school resource officers whose sole responsibility would be to have a presence at the schools.
“We want to create relationships to enhance schools,” Furlong said. “It is like stranger danger, how do we expect our students to trust an officer if you don’t know them?”
The three goals of the program are to enhance security measures, reduce occurrence rate to target at risk behaviors and to reduce truancy rates. The key is education, prevention and enforcement of productive and proactive student behavior through continuous contact with the Sheriff’s Office and the resource officers.
Furlong said currently there’s one patrol officer for schools, and he has been told that faculty and parents have appreciated the increased police presence in the schools.
The school resource officers will also work with various community organizations such as the District Attorney, Juvenile Services, Partnership Carson City and the Ron Wood Family Resource Center. Their duties will include class participation, student mentoring, school zone traffic enforcement, truancy enforcement and drugs and alcohol education, prevention and enforcement.
This grant is a three year award, where part of the money comes from the federal government and part of the money come from the local government which consists of the school and Sheriff’s Office funding. The first year, the grant will cover a majority of the cost, about $240,000 and the local government will pay about $80,000. Each year, federal funding will slightly decrease until the local government will be able to cover the full $300,000 in three years, said Heath. Furlong hopes that by the fourth year of the program, the program will be able to become a permanent staple in the schools. The total cost of the program to hire three resource officers will be $877,131.
Some of the local government costs includes overtime, special equipment such as ballistics vests and fitness pay, which isn’t covered in the federal funding.
“To me this is a no brainer,” said school board member Ryan Green. “It’s important to have that connect with the Sheriff’s Office and students to create a safer space in our schools.”
According to Andrew Feuling, director of Fiscal Services for Carson City School District, the program could help benefit the district because it could help with revenue costs that would off-set the expenses of the officers. Because the program is designed to keep more kids in school and better behaved, it could help reduce the costs from losing student numbers from drop outs and other issues.
The Sheriff’s Office would be monitoring the program with heavy follow-ups to make sure the program is accomplishing what it is meant to. “The biggest asset with this program is the relationship we have built with the school district and Sheriff’s Office for a joint venture to reduce costs to the community because the students and faculty benefit,” Furlong said.
The department will ask the Department of Justice to get an extension because the program was supposed to start on Oct. 1.