LIVINGSTON – The number of school resource officers (SRO) will remain at 10 for the 2019-20 school year, the Livingston Parish School Board decided.
The School Board accepted the report from its Budget/Goals Committee recommending continuing the SRO program with its present number at its meeting on June 20.
The board then approved a cooperative endeavor agreement with the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Denham Springs Police Department.
The Sheriff’s Office will provide eight deputies and the School Board will pay $340,000, half of the annual cost for the deputies.
The Denham Springs Police Department will provide two officers and the School Board will pay $81,733, half of the annual cost of the officers.
Risk Management Coordinator Wendy Gill told the committee that the Sheriff’s Office will be assigning a sergeant this coming year to coordinate the SRO assignments and fill in when one is out.
“They are handpicked to serve in schools and be on campus, interacting with students and staff,” she said.
The SROs also work at extracurricular activities and build relationships with their communities, she added.
School Board member Devin Gregoire asked about the response time for an SRO between schools.
"We try to keep them in their cluster and we also have DARE officers and a juvenile officer who can be out on campus,” Gill said.
“The longest response time I’ve seen is 5 minutes,” she said.
Gregoire said he was concerned about the response time for the SRO covering schools in Maurepas and Frost.
“We would love to increase the numbers,” Gill said, “In event of an emergency, you can get a road deputy there.”
A tax proposal to fund putting an SRO in every school in the parish was rejected by voters.
Gregoire asked if it were possible to add just one or two more SROs and Superintendent Joe Murphy said that can be evaluated.
“The principals are good about calling here and discussing” the situation to see if an SRO needs to be dispatched from another location, Murphy said.
“There is a lot of communication with our principals in questionable situations,” Murphy said.
A deputy simply can’t be assigned as an SRO, Murphy said. The training process can take six to eight months.
Assistant Superintendent Steve Parrill added that two of the officers are bilingual.
“The biggest thing is custody cases,” Parrill said. “We have custody problems every day. Being on campus, the officer there takes the pressure off the school.”