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Kenton Schools, Edgewood to Split Cost of New Police Officer at Elementary School

The Edgewood city council voted to add another full-time school resource officer.

Currently, the city's police department provides a full-time school resource officer to Dixie Heights High School and to Turkey Foot Middle School. The one assigned to the middle school would also devote a certain amount of time to the two elementary schools in the city, Hinsdale and Caywood.

All four schools are part of the Kenton County School District, which asked the city to provide another full-time officer to serve elementary students, with the school district and the city splitting the cost.

Since March, Edgewood Police Department has provided a regular officer to Hinsdale, but could only use officers who wanted to work on their days off. The time-and-a-half additional salary was covered by the school district.

Kenton County Schools asked for more security following the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla. in February, following similar actions by school districts across the country in response to the violence.

The regular officers who would work at Hinsdale since March are not specifically trained to be school resource officers.

At the city council meeting Monday night, Councilman Rob Thelen brought up the issue, arguing that while the additional full-time position was not something that had been budgeted for, it was something that needed to be done.

Kenton County Schools offered to pay half the estimated $50,000 to $60,000 salary.

"The topic of the day is school safety," said Councilman Joe Messmer. "(The school board) asked for this and will pay half the salary. We can't say no to this."

Kenton County Schools started discussions with the Edgewood Police Department in March.

"We felt that to keep our kids the safest, it is important to put an officer in the schools," said Teal Nally, district safety coordinator for Kenton County Schools. "I would love to have (an officer) for every school, but we will have to work with the funding capabilities. I am excited that we can get another SRO, but we don't have a final plan in place yet."

Most of the discussion Monday night centered on Hinsdale and it was unclear whether the new full-time school resource officer would only work there, or also at Caywood, or whether the officer at Turkey Foot would continue to split time between that school and Caywood. Turkey Foot and Caywood are next to each other on Turkey Foot Road. Hinsdale is about a mile and a half away from the other two schools, on Dudley Road.

More meetings to work out those logistics would be planned, Nally and Police Chief Tony Kramer said.

One concern for Kramer is that with the recent push for more school resource officers, the hiring pool could be small. Recently Boone County Schools added officers to all twenty-six of its campuses through a partnership with the Boone County Sheriff's Office. Often, the candidates are recently retired police officers.

Once a candidate is brought on, he or she will have to go through training, and will likely receive a police cruiser that would have been slated for surplus by the city. Kramer said a police cruiser outside the school would be a visible sign that there is an officer present.

St. Pius X School, a private Catholic school on Dudley Road, has not requested a school resource officer, Kramer said.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor
Photo via R.C. Hinsdale