Danville Director of Public Safety Larry Thomason recently proposed adding a fourth school resource officer in District 118 schools. City officials and school board members are considering the addition. It’s one that looks worthwhile.
School resource officers — who are full-time police officers — now serve at Danville High School and South View and North Ridge middle schools. They act as a deterrent to problems at the schools, and they also become a positive image of the police department.
Thomason said the results of adding resource officers at the middle schools show the practice yields significant results. The expulsion rates at both middle schools show a decline. The officers become almost sounding boards for students with problems they might not want to share with parents or teachers.
There’s no way to measure the value of the daily interaction between the officers and students. Allowing students to know police officers on a personal level through day-to-day routine creates a better understanding of the officers’ roles in the community.
Under the proposal, the proposed fourth officer’s salary would be paid by the school district while classes are in session from the district’s legal fund. That means it would not mean the loss of a school staff member in another category.
The city would then pay the officer’s for the time when schools were dismissed for the summer, essentially giving the department a full-time officer for about a fourth of the usual cost.
That’s looks like a good deal for the city, a good deal for the school district and, most important, a great deal for District 118 students.