By Ed Brock
Clayton County's student resource officers have been hard pressed lately, so the county's police department and school board are working together to facilitate their mission.
They took the first step at the Clayton County Board of Commissioners meeting last Tuesday when the commission approved a resolution authorizing the creation of a new SRO supervisor position.
"This resolution and budget amendment are fully funded by the board of education," Clayton County Police Chief Darrell Partain told the commission.
There are 19 Clayton County officers in the SRO unit, Clayton County Assistant Police Chief Jeff Turner said. Currently there are two supervisors, a captain and a sergeant, overseeing the unit.
And lately there has been an increase in calls for their service.
"They were having to run from school to school to school on certain investigations," Turner said.
Turner said that Partain had been in discussions with Clayton County Superintendent of Public Schools Barbara Pulliam about the need for more SROs. Preferably each school should have two SROs apiece but the department doesn't have the personnel to provide that kind of coverage.
"But we also saw the need for an additional supervisor," Turner said. "We're going to continue to look at ways of putting additional officers in each school."
Currently if there is an incident such as a threat of violence at one school the department has had to pull officers off the street or to use reserve officers to provide extra security.
"By the board of education paying for another supervisor, that gives us an opportunity to staff a much needed position in that unit," Turner said.
Already the school board pays a large percentage of the SROs' salaries during the school year when the officers work the schools, Turner said. During the summer break the officers resort to a regular pay schedule.
The new supervisor will hold the rank of sergeant and will serve under the Civil Service System. SROs provide security and investigate crimes on the county's high school and middle school campuses.
Riverdale and Forest Park's police departments provide SROs to schools in those municipalities. So far they have not requested more SRO positions, said Public Schools spokesman Charles White.