West Deer considers putting police in Deer Lakes schools
West Deer officials are considering a Deer Lakes School District request to have part-time township police officers provide school security.
Supervisors indicated they would honor the request pending the details of an agreement being worked out with the school district.
Meanwhile, police Chief John Lape was authorized to advertise for part-time police applicants.
Lape said the township has a police school resource officer (SRO) stationed at the high school now, for whom the district and the township share the cost under an agreement that is valid through June.
“This isn’t going to be an SRO-type of position because, as part-timers, they don’t have school resource officer training,” Lape said. It would just be security positions.”
Currently, the resource officer serves all four Deer Lakes schools.
“They are asking that we have a police officer at Curtisville Primary Center, East Union Intermediate Center and Deer Lakes Middle School,” he said.
The police chief said officers who are stationed at the schools will be paid by the school district at the township’s part-time rate of $18.01 per hour.
Additional employment details, such as paying for worker’s compensation, will be hammered out in an agreement between the district and the township.
“This will not go into effect until an agreement is signed by both entities,” Lape said.
“I’m looking to put on two or three part-timers,” he said.
However, Lape said any new part-time officers hired would not necessarily be stationed at the schools.
The department has 12 full-time officers and six part-time officers. Lape said that if the arrangement moves forward, part-time officers already working in the department would probably be assigned to the schools. He said that is because those officers are already acquainted with West Deer’s police regulations and procedures.
He said the school district’s request came as the result of discussions between himself and district officials regarding school safety that have been ongoing since April or May.
Lape said, from his standpoint, it is preferable to have a township policeman at each school as opposed to security guards from a private firm.
“We are pleased because the officers working in the schools will get familiar with the children,” Lape said.
He said as children get to know the officers, it becomes easier for them to come forward and tell them when they see or experience something that isn’t right.
Tom Yerace is a freelance writer.