Board working to keep school-based police officer

FLINT TWP. — Keeping a police officer at the high school has come under the budget-cutting radar.

The Flint Township Police Department is in talks with Carman- Ainsworth School officials to devise a shared-expense plan to keep the school-based officer.

To save money, CA school officials are considering discontinuing its School Resource Officer (SRO) Program in favor of perhaps privately hiring a retired police officer as a school security person, said Flint Township Police Chief George Sippert, in a presentation to the township board last week.

Sippert said he had been contacted by (former) C-A Superintendent Bill Haley suggesting a plan in which the township picks up half the cost of the school-based officer in order to continue the SRO program.

Sippert said the police department has had a full-time officer at the high school since 2000. Most recently, the school district paid 100 percent of costs for the officer from September to June when school is in session. During summer months, the officer is assigned to road patrol and the township picks up the cost.

Sippert said the SRO program saves the township about $72,000 a year towards the officer’s salary and benefits.

Mundy Township recently entered a similar cost-sharing plan with Carman-Ainsworth Middle School, Sippert said. That arrangement includes the school district allocating some of its capital improvement funds for repairs of roads where schools are located. That would help offset the township’s end costs.

Seeking direction from the board on how to proceed, Sippert said he thought it important to have an officer based at the high school.

“There are new statutes on the books that require the police department and the school district to be in close communication for a lot of different type of events,” Sippert said.

Bomb threats would be an example.

SROs are readily on site to handle problems that arise and also develop a rapport with students, he said, adding that the SRO arrangement has worked out very well over the years.

Trustee Frank Kasle voiced his support for continuing the SRO program. Making schools as safe as possible is an important for attracting new residents to the township, he said.

By unanimous vote, the board gave Sippert permission to negotiate a shared – cost plan with CA. Sippert said he hoped to have a contract ready for the board’s consideration at its August 20 meeting, in order to settle the matter before school starts.

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