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Latrobe nears adding school resource officer

| Tuesday, May 13, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

In one step closer to placing a school resource officer in Greater Latrobe School District, Latrobe council approved an agreement to include the officer in the city's police department union.

A memorandum of understanding was approved at Monday's council meeting, acknowledging discussion between the members of the Latrobe police department collective bargaining unit and city officials.

Solicitor Jim Kelly said the Fraternal Order of Police and the city worked well together.

“All in all, the F.O.P. was very cooperative and very supportive of this,” he said. “Hopefully, it's going to help a lot in terms of safety in the schools.”

Kelly explained that while the school resource officer functions mainly as an educator, the school district has filed a petition under the Pennsylvania School Code with the county Court of Common Pleas to allow that officer to use police power.

Both the city of Latrobe and Unity Township agreed to the petition, Kelly said.

“His primary function is be an educator, a teacher, and to work with the kids and have them gain a greater appreciation of a policeman and the police department,” Kelly said.

The school resource officer — funded by a grant through the state Department of Education and contributions from the school district — will be armed and patrol all five school buildings and grounds as well as investigate the law, if necessary.

The officer will act as a full-time employee of the Latrobe Police Department when school is not in session.

Police Chief Jim Bumar said 10 candidates applied to a recent agility test for the position. Eight people attended the test and seven passed, he said. Next, after passing a written civil service test, the top three candidates will be interviewed by representatives from the department and the school district, who will hire the officer.

Another petition to the court will have to be made to grant police power once a properly trained and qualified person is named, Kelly said.

Officials at Greater Latrobe have been discussing the addition of a school resource officer since February with hopes to have an officer in place by the next school year.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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