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City to hire resource officer for Campbellsville Independent Schools

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Council votes unanimously to help fund officer; CIS Superintendent Smith wants officer in place for new school year

By Josh Claywell

 

The Campbellsville City Council approved a measure to help the Campbellsville Independent School District move one step closer to hiring a school resource officer in Monday’s regular meeting at City Hall.

CIS Superintendent Kirby Smith and Mayor Tony Young have had discussions since late January about the possibility of bringing aboard a school resource officer at the high school and middle school campus.

Following school shootings at Marshall County and in Parkland, Florida, earlier this year, Smith thought it was paramount that CIS have a school resource officer available. Smith said it’s been about eight years since the district has had a school resource officer.

“When I took over (as superintendent) about a year ago, one of my top priorities was to find a way to secure funding for school resource officers,” Smith said. “Eight years prior to this as a high school principal, there were so many times that we needed a school resource officer. I would like to thank Chief (Pat) Thompson and her staff; they’re remarkable providing us a service when someone wasn’t there. It’s just there have been times when we’ve needed that presence.”

Mayor Young said he believed it would be in the city’s best interest to help provide CIS with a school resource officer.

“I think it’s extremely important that the city of Campbellsville and our police department works with the city schools in order to help them provide a school resource officer,” he said afterward. “We were very anxious to work with them. The county school system works with the county sheriff’s department, which is a little different government. The sheriff’s department works separately from the fiscal court. Where fiscal court has agreed to pay the hazardous duty pensions, that was a separate body. But here in the city, the city police department is under one government – so it’s all one group.”

As the council asked questions about the issue, Councilman Mike Hall Jr. wanted to know how much it would cost for the city to provide a school resource officer.

Young said he didn’t have an exact figure to present to the council, but that it would cost around $15,000 a year per officer – funds that would pay the hazardous duty portion of an officer’s pension.

Young said CIS has requested one school resource officer to start at the beginning of the next school year.

“At this point, we’re willing to work with them and do whatever we can,” Young said. “Who can put a price on safety and doing all we can to provide a safe environment for our children to go to school? If our local school system is asking for help, I want to be first in line to do all we can to help them.”

In the wake of the school shootings this year, Smith said it became abundantly clear the school needed a resource officer. He thanked the Campbellsville Police Department for providing help any time it was needed, but said having a presence in the building will go a long way for students and staff alike.

“It just kind of drove home to me that we really needed someone in our building,” Smith said. “We had a safety forum for our parents and that was the big question: Why do we not have a school resource officer? I said I would do my best to see if we could have someone in place by the time school started back. So I started talking to surrounding counties – Taylor, Adair, Metcalfe, Marion and Glasgow – and all of them are partnered with their sheriff’s department.

“That’s when I started the conversation with Mayor Young, just asking if there was a way.”

The measure passed unanimously.

“We want this person to immerse themselves into our district, be a part of it,” Smith said. “We want them to be comfortable with what they’re doing, too. I would love to have someone in place when school starts. We don’t want to jeopardize the safety of our city by pulling someone off the streets. I think if our community understands we’re working toward that, they’ll understand we’re moving in the right direction.”

Young said the school district will pay the officer’s salary, so that will help offset some of the cost. He also said several officers have expressed interest in the position.

“There’s already been some discussion and thought from the police department on that, and we felt there’s a very good possibility that there may be someone coming in that may be interested,” Young said. “But we wanted to involve the school system and their representatives to come help us select a person that would fit what they want. It’s a learning process, but we want to have input from both sides on that. I feel like that’s going to be accomplished. We hope to have that ready in the fall.

“We don’t know for sure what’s going to happen, but we feel very good about the possibilities of filling this spot. We’re trying to be prepared either way, because this is something we the feel the community and the school needs. We want to do all we can to help it and support it.”

 

In other business:

• The council approved applying for funding for a 2018-19 Community Development Block Grant program for The Healing Place.

Martina Hadley, with the Lake Cumberland Area Development District, said the funding last year totaled $200,000.

Shannon Gray, director of The Healing Place, said he and the organization were thankful the council was able to get the funding last year and hoped it would happen again this year. The measure passed after a brief discussion.

“We continue to do what we’ve been doing,” Gray said. “Recovery comes first, but we are very active in the community. We do a lot of volunteer work and community-based projects. We have participated in not only Taylor County, but surrounding counties ‘Truth or Consequences’ programs, talking to freshmen in high school. That’s one of the more effective things we appreciate we’re able to do. Once you get to the addiction level, it becomes very tough – so prevention is very important.”

Young said it’s important for the city to support organizations like The Healing Place.

“The city annually works as a conduit for the funding of operations and have since the facilities opened,” he said. “Grant funding has gone down; it’s not as much. But the city just acts as a transfer. We don’t put any city money in there. There just has to be some form of a government agency to transfer that money. They do all the work and we just transfer it through our accounts.”

• The council approved the financial reports through March.

The city has spent 68.1 percent of its budget, which is $11,626,591.00.