Meadville Tribune

Local News

February 17, 2014

School board mulls adding school resource officer at Crawford Central

WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP — Crawford Central School Board discussed bringing a school resource officer to the district at its committee meeting Monday evening on the general consensus that doing so would be a proactive measure to ensure student safety and provide an additional mentoring role for students.

Funding would be provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Office for Safe Schools through a $60,000 grant, including officer salary and safety and security services training fees.

Under grant guidelines, a school resource officer is a law enforcement official commissioned by a local, county or state law enforcement agency whose duty station is in a school.

Mike Tautin, Meadville’s assistant police chief, described the SRO’s role as proactive rather than reactive — offering student guidance and security with familiarity to the district and its occupants, rather than responding to a call.

He reported more than 50 calls between the Meadville Area Middle School and Meadville Area Senior High School a recent school year and hopes the presence of a uniformed officer will provide enough impact to drop the incident rate.

In addition to availability during school hours, the SRO may be required to attend extracurricular functions, including sporting events or other student programs.

Crawford Central board members mentioned having tried to establish an SRO role for several years and expressed interest in a potential SRO’s teaching abilities or credentials.

Tautin said the position candidates have student coaching experience and will be able to operate smoothly in a school setting between their current skill set and additional training available to them as an SRO.

The school board and attending members of the Meadville police department agreed the SRO position will benefit both parties.

Board members also mentioned the opportunity to acquire an SRO should be seized whether or not the grant is acquired.

The grant expires by June 30, 2014, Tautin said.

School board members expect to cast an official vote on the matter at their next meeting on Feb. 24. If approved, the officer could assume duties as early as Feb. 25 and would serve at the police department as a regular on-duty officer when school is out of session.

Kurt Sitler, a Cochranton resident who retired after 26 years with Pennsylvania State Police, was appointed by Conneaut School Board to fill the newly-created school police officer position in Conneaut School District last week.

Conneaut School District used funding provided by Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Office for Safe Schools to make the hire.

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