Butler County’s largest school system will have more armed school police officers during the coming school year than it has at any time in its history.
The Journal-News has learned Lakota school officials will add eight school resource officers that patrol the district’s 23 buildings, bringing its total to 18 armed officers.
The 16,500-student district, which is the eighth largest in Ohio, has for years used armed officers supplied by West Chester Township Police and the Butler County Sheriff’s Office for building and campus security.
“We appreciate our partnerships with the West Chester Police and Butler County Sheriff’s Office,” said Lakota Superintendent Matthew Miller. “Increasing the number of school resource officers is another layer in our safety and security protocols”
Julie Shaffer, Lakota school board president, said “the decision to hire additional school resource officers is one that we stand behind as a school board.”
“The safety and security of our students and staff is always our top priority. Each school campus will now have a dedicated officer helping to keep our students safe,” said Shaffer.
Lakota’s school board voted last month to opt out of new school security tax ballot issue, saying it has already asked local taxpayers — as part of a 2013 tax hike — to help fund school security, and that approval of an operating levy that year has provided sufficient funds to date.
Following the passage of the 2013 levy, the district more than tripled the number of its school resource officers to 10.
All Butler County schools are periodically served by a rotation of armed school resource officers, but the shooting massacres earlier this year at Florida and Texas high schools have raised the issue of protecting schools from attack to historical highs.
As part of that trend locally, more Butler County schools — though so far not Lakota — are considering allowing some trained school staffers access to firearms during classes to help protect students should school resource officers and local police not be able to respond in a timely fashion to an armed attacker.
Lakota officials have made it a practice to not publicly discuss the specific deployment of armed school resource officers and other details about its security procedures and technology so as not to aid anyone seeking to use such information as part of an assault on the schools.
Officials said, however, the new school resource officer hirings will allow “full-time law enforcement coverage at every Lakota school campus.”