If Grant School District is interested in contracting for the services, the city of John Day would provide a school resource officer.
The contract could help the city benefit from a fourth certified police officer, City Manager Nick Green told the John Day City Council at the April 24 meeting.
The city has proposed a one-year pilot program, splitting the costs of the SRO with the school district. Green estimated the total cost of a certified officer with benefits at about $92,000. The council reached a consensus to go ahead with the SRO contract.
As a parent, Green said he would prefer a trained SRO to arming teachers.
“Having a visible police presence at the high school could have a more significant deterrent effect on active shooters than the possibility that school employees may be armed,” he said.
Councilor Paul Smith said he was opposed to arming teachers and noted that an SRO could assist police in emergencies and vice versa. Smith said the school district’s past SRO was grant funded. When the grant ran out, Grant County funded the position for one year more and then the position went away.
Mike Durr, who began work at the John Day Police Department May 1 and will be appointed interim police chief, noted that an SRO is not needed at the schools during the summer, and the fourth police officer could be available for the city during the busy tourist season.
School Superintendent Curt Shelley said the district has set aside $45,000 in next year’s budget for an SRO, but the school board still needs to approve the budget. He noted that funding from the Oregon State School Fund will be higher than expected for next year, which could help cover the SRO cost.
Shelley said he’d also like to see an SRO for Humbolt Elementary and Seneca School, and he noted that providing an SRO didn’t rule out other school safety measures, such as securing access to buildings and arming teachers.