When students in the Northwestern Local school district walk into their buildings on the first day of school this year, a new face will be greeting them at the door.
Northwestern will become the third school district in the county to have a school resource officer. Tecumseh Local and Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center are the other two schools who will have an officer present during the school day.
“We know it’s our responsibility to do our due diligence when it comes to protecting our kids,” said Northwestern Local School Board President, Andy Gundolf. “We never want to wake up on a day at Northwestern where we were under-prepared.”
Gundolf said it’s been on the board’s agenda for about three years to discuss different security options.
Northwestern had an open forum on school security in May and the district has a comprehensive safety plan in place, Gundolf said.
The officer, approved by unanimous vote by the Clark County Commissioners, will split time between the elementary school and junior/senior high school buildings and return to the road or wherever else they are needed during the summer months.
The School Resource Officer (SRO) program replaced the Educational Service Officer (ESO) program that was launched in 2013 by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. In the ESO program, there were a total of two officers who patrolled all schools in the county. The SRO program gives schools the opportunity to have an officer exclusive to their own district.
“They realized there is a need because of the amount of things going on at the schools,” said Maj. Gary Cox with the sheriff’s office.
Clark County will put up half of the resource officer’s salary, while the school district will foot the remaining half. Northwestern also has a partnership with the German Twp. Police Department.
Cox said one of the major benefits of the program will be the ties the officer will make with the school community, that includes about 1,800 students.
“The officer is much more than somebody that is carrying the badge and gun,” Cox said. “That officer is making that connection with the students. (They) can see students as they change and actually approach that student that day and say, ‘hey what’s going?’”
Cox said the sheriff’s office selected 20-year veteran, Deputy Darlene Grogg for the post at Northwestern. According to a bio on the sheriff’s office website, Grogg has been assigned to the Jail Division, Community Oriented Policing, Uniform Road Patrol, Criminal Investigations, Drug Investigations and the R.A.N.G.E (Regional Area Narcotics and Gun Enforcement) Task Force.
Springfield City School District also recently renewed their contract with the Springfield Police Division to keep four resource officers in school buildings next year.
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