Officials at Daviess County Public Schools announced Tuesday during a press conference they will launch a new student safety initiative that would involve creating their own police agency and add law enforcement officers to their middle schools.
DCPS will hire and employ five full-time certified law enforcement officers under the Kids First Safety First Initiative. These special law enforcement officers will operate as a police department under the school district and separate from the Daviess County Sheriff’s Office.
The five SLEOs will be assigned to five schools–Apollo and Daviess County high schools, Burns, College View and Daviess County middle schools. The SLEOs will also oversee elementary schools, Heritage Park High School and the district office.
Daviess County Public School announces new “Kids First Safety First Initiative.” DCPS is looking to create its own law enforcement department, which will increase the number of school resource officers from two to five. pic.twitter.com/1IRf4UcgiR
— Owensboro Times (@OwensboroTimes) February 18, 2020
The Daviess County Board of Education currently partners with the Daviess County Sheriff’s Office to employ two school resource officers who work primarily at Apollo and Daviess County even though they serve the other schools in the district, as well.
DCPS Superintendent Matt Robbins said it will cost roughly $180K compared to $90,00, which DCPS spends now on the two SROs.
“So we have roughly about $90,000 within that contract to dedicate toward the five officers,” Robbins said. “It’s more economical for us to employ the officers than it is for the Sheriff’s Office.”
Both DCPS and the Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday that the current arrangement is not feasible for either agency and agreed that the expansion will be a win, win for both sides.
Robbins said the move is within budget with the help of grants and other streams of revenue.
“We feel like we can safely say that we can fund this and make it happen not only on a one-year basis because that’s another issue of concern is what about next year,” Robbins said. “The dollars that we would allocate toward this would be recurring presence for us to continue funding the program well into the future, perhaps have other officers.”
Robbins said when the initiative launches hopefully in August 2020, DCPS will join 16 other school districts to have implemented an SLEO program.
“It’s paramount that everyone understands that we will continue to be very supportive and have a very supportive relationship with the school systems and always necessary to keep everyone safe daily and in the event of an emergency,” said Chief Deputy Sheriff Major Barry Smith.
SLEO will be certified under the Kentucky Police Officers Professional Standards. They have the same authority and power as traditional law enforcement officials.
“Having your own police force gives us the ability to manage that police force,” said Tom Payne, DCPS board chairman. “We don’t have to call the sheriff’s department or the police department. We can move officers around as needed anytime.”
Payne said SLEO will have its own uniform and patrol vehicles.
Payne said implementing the five SLEOs will also help DCPS better comply with Senate Bills that require law-enforcement officers to be present on campus.