Florence City Schools To Ask For Resource Officer

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FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – The tragic school shooting in Newtown put school systems across the country evaluating their own emergency procedures and security on school campuses.

One of the school systems that saw they could do more is in the Shoals.

Parents across the City of Florence have grown accustomed to seeing patrol cars parked outside schools.

Since the 1990s, the Florence Police Department and Florence City School Board have partnered to split the costs of having school resource officers.

But school system leaders want to have full-time officers on each campus, all day, and every day.

“Currently we have five school resource officers, and one of them covers two schools,” said Deputy Police Chief Tim Shaddix. “So, he spends part of the day at one and the other part at the other.”

After their evaluation of procedures, school system leaders approached the police department and city about making this a reality.

Chief Shaddix sees this as not only a good idea for security reasons, but it goes back to the concept of community policing.  That’s building a rapport with everyone in the community, starting at a young age.

“The school resource officers act somewhat as an educator, they talk about programs like bike safety, about bullying, and all kinds of things that are not part necessarily covered sometimes,” said Shaddix.

Police department officials say the cost of hiring a school resource officer is in the neighborhood of $50,000, which includes benefits.

School leaders also say they plan to apply for a grant to cover the cost of placing a school resource officer at the new Florence Freshman Center once it is complete.

The school board plans to formally ask the Florence City Council for the additional funding in the coming weeks.

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