The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

May 26, 2013

Sheriff seeks school officers

— With funding already secured, the sheriff and Limestone superintendent plan to provide certified school resource officers at every elementary campus in the county school system beginning in August, but more applicants are being sought to allow rotation of a part-time pool of SROs.

Sheriff Mike Blakely said he would prefer to hire 12 part-time resource officers to staff Blue Springs, Cedar Hill, Creekside, Johnson, Piney Chapel and Owens. All six elementary schools are grades K-5.

Tanner, West Limestone and Elkmont are K-12 schools. The county system’s six high schools and the Career Technical Center currently have a full-time SRO assigned to their campuses.

The County Commission and Limestone County Schools already evenly split the $516,908 annual cost of the seven full-time officers. Both agreed this spring also to share the approximate $240,000 annual expense for the part-time officers.

Retired officers with a pension from the Retirement Systems of Alabama cannot be paid more than $23,000 per year under state regulations.

Both Blakely and Dr. Tom Sisk, superintendent of Limestone County Schools, have said using certified school resource officers is safer and more effective than using private security officers.

“We’re still looking for certified law enforcement officers so we can start the SRO program for the elementary schools. Anyone that is a retired police officer and interested in applying must submit a resume to the Sheriff’s Office no later than June 1,” Blakely said. “We have eight applicants now, and we want as many as possible to interview and select from. We want a pool of 12 certified officers to utilize throughout the school year.”

The Sheriff’s Department requires all SROs to have up-to-date certification from the Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training and the National Association of School Resource Officers.

Some retired officers could require APOST recertification, and all new resource officers must complete 40 hours of SRO training.

The deadline to apply is Saturday, June 1, and interviews will begin the following week. For more information, contact Blakely or Capt. Fred Sloss, who oversees the resource officers, at 256-232-0111.

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