Northeast Dubois requests resource officer

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

The Northeast Dubois County School Corporation could have a school resource officer by January.

District Superintendent Bill Hochgesang asked the Dubois County Commissioners Monday if the county would hire an officer to be the district’s school resource officer.

“I’m concerned because we are so rural,” Hochgesang said about the district. “Our response time (for law enforcement reaching a district school) is 10 to 15 minutes. In the case of (recent) school shootings, 10 minutes and it’s over.”

Tim Lampert, chief deputy for the Dubois County Sheriff’s Department, said that the department does patrol in the district. “We try to spend as much time as much as we can up there,” he said.

But having an officer dedicated as the district’s school resource officer would be better, he added. The officer would be a county employee, contracted by the school.

Greater Jasper Consolidated Schools has a school resource officer from teh Jasper Police Department. The Southwest Dubois County School Corporation is working on obtaining a school resource officer from the Huntingburg Police Department. The Ferdinand Police Department is sending one of its officers to training this summer so that the department is ready to place a school resource officer in the Southeast Dubois County School Corporation when the position is approved. Northeast Dubois does not have a municipal police department in its district.

Jasper’s resource officer, Jason Knies, was at Monday’s meeting. He explained to the commissioners that his job is multi-faceted, such as stopping fights, talking to students to deter bad behavior, giving talks in classes, operating the DARE program, being a visual presence in the schools and building relationships with the students. When school is not in session, Knies operates as a Jasper Police Department officer.

To prepare for the position, Knies had to go to a school for resource officer training. He hopes that one of those trainings can be set up locally. All officers must pass the law enforcement academy and get training throughout each year. Hochgesang said that the Northeast Dubois staff receives safety specialist training, which he plans to have the officer do as well.

Lampert said that Sheriff Donny Lampert is working to find grant funding for an officer for the district.

During the state Legislature’s special session last week, at the request of Gov. Eric Holcomb, the Indiana General Assembly added $5 million to the state’s Secured School Safety Grant Program. The money is to be used to improve safety measures at schools.

The district has put in a grant application for $35,000, which Hochgesang is confident the district will receive. “The Governor signed (the bill for) the additional $5 million to make sure that all districts will get a grant,” he said. “The main thing they’re approving them for is resource officers.”

The Northeast Dubois School Board has also committee $35,000 for the officer, Hochgesang said.

The officer would be used at the schools for the nine months school is in session. He or she would also be hired for other school activities, like ball games or dances, Hochgesang said. For the three months that school isn’t in session, the officer will work at the sheriff’s department. According to information Hochgesang received from Sheriff Lampert, the cost for a new deputy is about $80,000

The commissioners agreed that Northeast Dubois needs a school resource officer, and agreed to creating the new position, so long as the security grant is awarded and the Dubois County Council also approves adding the new position.

“This is a good idea. It’s a matter of working out the details,” Commissioners President Nick Hostetter said. “We just need to find a way to get it done.”

Northeast Dubois will find out in August if the grant was awarded, Hochgesang said. The grant would start in January, he said.




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