Fairfield will become the latest district to expand the presence of police officers in its schools, moving them into each of the secondary schools beginning next year.
City Council last month approved the allocation of two additional school resource officers, and those positions will be paid for by the Fairfield City School District.
“The two additional SROs will enable us to station an officer at each of the secondary educational buildings, which includes the Fairfield Senior High School, Fairfield Freshman School, Crossroads Middle School and Creekside Middle School,” said Fairfield City Manager Mark Wendling.
Superintendent Billy Smith said the current environment requires the “unfortunate” need for a greater police presence within the schools.
“Unfortunately, we live in a world in which there are occasions that we receive some type of threat,” he said. “When that happens, we work directly with our local law enforcement agencies. Typically, an SRO is the officer that works directly with the district when there is a safety and security threat. Having additional officers in our schools will make our schools safer and more secure. In addition, our students, staff, and families find comfort in knowing that a police officer is on site.”
But there are several benefits to increasing the number of SROs in the district, including providing “another positive role model for our students,” Smith said.
“The two school resource officers that we have work very hard to build relationships with our students, staff and parents,” he said. “They go out of their way to get to know kids.”
Officers Kevin Harrington and Todd Adamson were in the schools last year, Harrington at the high school and freshman school and Adamson at both middle schools.
Harrington, who’s been an SRO for 11 years, will not return as an SRO next school year, as he iss being promoted today to sergeant. Adamson, who just finished his first year as an SRO in Fairfield, will continue with that assignment.
The city has historically paid for SROs in the schools, but with the expansion to four SROs this coming school year, the school district will pay half the cost. The estimated cost will be $252,000 for each entity, according to city and school officials. The actual cost will be determined once duty assignments have been made, they said.
Smith said the SROs are more than just police officers in the schools.
“Time and time again, we have witnessed situations where a student connects with an SRO and will open up to the SRO when he or she may not open up to anyone else. That isn’t the case with every student, but it happens,” Smith said. “Our SROs are visible in the hallways. They greet students. They check in with certain students that they are worried about. They make a difference in the lives of our kids each and every day.”
Smith also said the officers “are great resources for our staff and parents.”
“It is very common for us to receive positive feedback when our local law enforcement officers are present in our schools,” he said.
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