The Conway City Council unanimously approved the addition of three School Resource Officers to the Conway School District on Tuesday.
The addition will make for eight SROs in Conway schools, and makes it possible for two officers each at both the junior and senior high school campuses, and will provide one full-time SRO at each of the district’s four middle schools, superintendent Greg Murry said.
The four middle school SROs are also responsible for the elementary schools that feed into the middle school they work in, Murry said.
“The opportunity of expanding our SRO team will provide the opportunity to put trained personnel in our schools who can add to the already safe environment with their presence,” Murry said in a Wednesday email. “They can also expand their ability to build bridges between students and police officers in a positive way.”
Chief of Police A.J. Gary said the police department and school district have a goal of having one full-time SRO at each campus, and this move gets them closer to accomplishing that.
Gary said the SROs will be chosen from current police department personnel, however, replacements for those patrol officers must be in place, and undergoing training, before the selected officers will be able to make the move to SRO.
“We hope to have (replacements) hired fairly quickly, and have them in training by the first of the year,” he said.
Gary said having the new SROs on the school campuses by the second semester is a “tough goal,” but stated the department would try and complete the task, although Gary indicated it might be the 2014 school year before all of the additional SROs are on school campuses.
The replacement officers, which will be new hires, must undergo nine to 12 months of training, Gary said, before they are allowed to patrol on their own.
The Conway Police Department recently held an entry-level officer exam at the Conway Expo Center. Approximately 150 people completed the exam.
As with previous SROs, the additions will be a joint venture with the police department and school district. Each party is responsible for half of the salary of the SRO.
“That’s the great thing about this,” Gary said. “It’s combining resources of the police department and school district, so it’s not a tremendous impact on either budget.”
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