JPS Discusses Addition Of New School Resource Officer
Members of the Jamestown Public Schools Board discussed the possibility of adding a new school resource officer.
Paul Abbott, school board president, said the idea is that the officer would not be assigned to an individual building, rather assist all schools. He said the school resource officer would present on various topics throughout the district and would not be a “uniformed police officer.”
“This could be a … lighter presence,” he said.
Dr. Kevin Whitaker, Jamestown Public Schools superintendent, added that the position would be more of an instructional, mentoring role in the district who could be helpful in building relationships with students.
After the meeting, Abbott said the district has had discussions with the police department and its administrative members.
“It’s simply a matter of timeline. We’re just in the dawn of our budget cycle if you will for our next year,” Abbott said. “This would be something that we would be looking to institute in August — to get them so that they’re up and ready to go when we open our doors this fall. They were aware that we’ve done this, this was a mutual discussion and agreement and both parties are very excited about this idea.”
Whitaker explained after the meeting that the position will be a little different than the current school resource officer in the district.
“The first one we have already is more a police officer and kind of a safety presence assigned to the high school,” Whitaker said. “This type of police presence is a little bit different and this one is more kindergarten through 12th grade. It’s more instructional, meaning that the officer would teach students in a similar way to say a DARE program about drugs — maybe with the little kids, stranger danger and things like that. (They) would also teach adults about things like potential gang-related items or what drugs look like, and what people under the influence of drugs may look like. Also, how to handle certain situations, de-escalation and things like that. In addition to those things, this SRO would also be connecting with students, perhaps helping them navigate situations they or their families, their relatives, or their friends may be in and become a person they can talk to, rather than just having an unknown police department or an unknown court system operating with them and their families.”
Whitaker said the idea of adding a new school resource officer is only a proposal at this point.
“The board of course has to go through the whole budgeting process, and if they accept that, this would be part of the budget,” he said. “Then it would go to the public. If the public approves the budget, assuming that this is part of the budget, it would be approved and then I believe the city can move forward with making the hire.”