More School Resource Officers Coming to School District 51
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.- The Mesa County Commissioners unanimously approved a grant that would allow for the hiring of three new school resource officers for School District 51.
Sheriff Stan Hilkey and Steve Schultz, superintendent for School District 51, made it clear to the commissioners that additional resource officers are not a want, but a need.
"Restoring these three officers to the sheriff's department is really going to help us. People forget we have 44 schools. Some of them are in areas of unincorporated Mesa County," said Schultz.
The $375,000 federal grant comes from Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and will completely fund the new positions.
There are two stipulations to the grant; the first says a person hired for a school resource officer job must have either been laid off from duty during the recession or must be a veteran.
The second says Mesa County must match $50,000 per year.
County officials plan on using leftover funds from the Department of Human Services Temporary Aid to Needy Family (TANF) fund to pay for their end grant.
Brooke Pace from the Mesa County Sheriff's Office, who is the lone school resource officer based at Central High School, said, "I float from here. My other busy schools are Grand Mesa Middle School and Mount Garfield Middle School, but I am also responsible for all the other elementary schools that are here in the county."
Officials say the partnership could not only help prevent a tragedy from occurring in the Grand Valley, such as a school shooting, but will also promote a positive environment for student interaction with law enforcement.
"It's a benefit to really interact with the kids instead of just being called to their house and being viewed as the bad guy. I get to be seen as the good guy. I am here to help them and I am here to make sure they are safe at all times," said Pace.
Alyssa Unselt , a Central High School junior, said, "I actually do feel like I am a lot safer when there is a school resource officer here, and if there's something going on that a principal can't take care of, then the resource officer is here to help them."
As of right now, school district officials are unsure which schools will be the base of the new resource officers.