Logan County Superintendent Paul Mullins

Logan County Superintendent Paul Mullins

Logan County Superintendent Paul Mullins attended Tuesday's fiscal court meeting and requested two additional positions for school resource officers (SRO) to add to the one the system currently has.

Attending with Mullins was Ben Kemplin, Director of Human Resources and Operations for the system, and Tyler Davenport, Director of Technology.

The Logan County School System is made up of six schools. There is currently one SRO to cover all schools. In a perfect world, said Mullins, he would like to have one for each school but said he understood the budget the county has to manage and that was why he was only asking for two more.

There are two positions budgeted by the county, however, one hasn't been filled since a recent SRO retirement.

A school resource officer is a commissioned, sworn law enforcement officer, not a "security guard." The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) recommends that all SROs be issued and carry all the same equipment they'd have on any other law enforcement assignment.

Mullins said he and a group of educators have been meeting to discuss what can be done to make schools safer. A survey Mullins said was circulated came back overwhelmingly in support of increasing school resource officers.

"I am asking this on the heels of what has been occurring across the country," said Mullins, speaking of school violence.

According to Mullins, he has heard there may be federal dollars coming down in the fall for schools to apply that would help in the cost of hiring SRO's.

The school system reimburses the county a percentage of an SRO's pay and benefits. Some of the SRO's share their time between the school system and the sheriff's department. The perfect candidate, according to the Logan County Sheriff Wallace Whittaker is a retired police officer who is already drawing a retirement.

"I have talked to other judges and everyone is looking for that retired officer who wants to just have a school schedule," said Chick.

Magistrate Thomas Bouldin isn't convinced more is necessarily needed.

"I try to look at everything by taking the emotion out of it," said Bouldin. "I have a wife who teaches in the system and kids who attended the system. I want to do what I can to keep the school safe, but is there really a need?"

Bouldin said he knew this would be a topic that would be addressed during the election season. He said he has done some research on SRO's and also felt that the Logan County schools were safe.

"Safety is a concern but as a parent, it seems really safe to me. Of course, take it with a grain of salt, I am not an educator," said Bouldin.

Mullins agreed with Bouldin saying the school system is very safe.

"There is not a safer place for kids to be than at school," said Mullins. "But I feel like we can get the schools covered better with two more positions."

Although no decision was made Tuesday on Mullin's request, Judge Executive Logan Chick did assure him the court and himself would talk about it further.

"(Sheriff) Wallace (Whittaker) and I have been talking about this for a month," said Chick. "We will talk about this and see what we can do. I don't want you to think by us being quiet it means we aren't thinking about it."

Magistrate Dickie Carter said he wanted to bring the request back up at the next fiscal court meeting and would like to see the county provide six school resource officers -one for each school.

According to Bouldin that would cost over $400,000 a year.

"I'm sure all these schools who had a shooting didn't get up in the morning and think there would be a shooting and thought their school was the safest," said Carter.

Sheriff Whittaker told the court Tuesday that this was a big issue and that school safety is what the people want to happen.

"It's good until a something happens and then you wonder why," said Whittaker.