Southeast pursuing school resource officer


Steps are being taken to provide a school resource officer for the Southeast Dubois County School Corporation.

A new deputy position at the Dubois County Sheriff’s Office was unanimously approved by the Dubois County Commissioners Monday morning.

Sheriff Tom Kleinhelter told the commissioners that district officials contacted him, requesting an officer be present in Southeast schools: Pine Ridge Elementary School, Ferdinand Elementary School, Cedar Crest Intermediate School and Forest Park Junior-Senior High School.

Having an officer in the schools interacting with the students would be a great benefit, Southeast Schools Superintendent Jamie Pund said Monday afternoon.

“We focus on safety, and what we can do to make sure that our kids are in a safe learning environment,” she said. “Having an SRO (school resource officer), someone traveling to all of our buildings and building relationships with our youth, is one piece of that puzzle. It’s having someone there to help find solutions and strategies to some of the problems that are affecting our youth. That is a major component of it.”

The school resource officer service would be a contract with Southeast identical the contract the Northeast Dubois County School Corporation has with the sheriff’s office, Kleinhelter said. His plan is to have one of the current deputies become the officer and hire a new person to fill the open deputy position, he said.

Funding for the position must be approved by the Dubois County Council before a new person can be hired. Southeast Dubois has $70,000 to contribute to the cost of the officer, part of which comes from an Indiana Secured School Safety Grant the district has been awarded.

While there would be some expense to the county, the benefit outweighs the cost, Commissioner Elmer Brames said.

“For Northeast Dubois, the discussion was that we felt like the grant amount covered enough of the expenses that are involved in this,” he said. “What we would be responsible for would be made up in the fact that (the officer) will be working for the county for the sheriff’s department during those times school is not in session. So that balances whatever it costs over that grant amount to fund this position.”

Kleinhelter hopes to have the new school resource officer start in January. Once that happens, each school district will have a dedicated officer at its schools. The Northeast district has an officer from the sheriff’s office. The Southwest Dubois County School Corporation has a school resource officer through the Huntingburg Police Department. And Greater Jasper Consolidated Schools has two officers through the Jasper Police Department.

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