As the City of Saline and Saline Area Schools discuss an initial multi-year agreement for a police resource officer, the city will likely require the district to pick up the bulk of the cost if an agreement is to be reached.
“I think it’s a marvelous idea, ultimately beneficial for Saline Area Schools and also for the city,” said Mayor Brian Marl on the possibility of a resource officer. “I’d like it to be as revenue neutral as possible.”
A school resource officer would demand the city dedicate an officer to the district for at least the entirety of school year, with some additional time for summer programming. At this point, the Saline Police Department does not have a staff large enough to absorb the additional man hours that would be needed to service the district in this manner.
“We unfortunately don’t have that luxury. We would need at least nine months out of the year, maybe longer, as the school year seems to be getting longer, so that officer would be dedicated,” City Manager Todd Campbell said.
Marl emphasized that the standard in the City of Saline should be a dispatcher, two officers and a supervisor on every single shift. “That is not only good for our public’s safety and well being, but that’s also good for our officer’s safety,” he said.
Marl added the police department is not at a staffing level where it could absorb a dedicated school resource officer. “The only way to do that would be to mix up that rotation and diminish the ratio I talked about,” he said.
Thus, an additional officer would need to be hired to maintain staffing levels, and the question becomes who picks up this cost. “We would need to continue to at our full service level, we would need to replace that, so we proposed a cost neutral approach in order to do this, if the city council and school board wanted to go forward,” Campbell said.
With Officer David Ringe as the likely choice to become the dedicated school resource officer, a cost neutral approach to the city means the district would be on the hook for the additional officer to replace Ringe. Saline Area Schools expects the cost to be about $50,000-75,000 per year to the district.
“Personally, I think it would be money well spent,” School Board President Paul Hynek said.
If an agreement is reached between the city and district, the resource officer would probably not begin before January 2017, as there would be a hiring process and training period for the new officer.
“We’ve been having ongoing conversations for really a couple of years related to the presence of a Saline police officer really designated to our district related to City of Saline facilities,” Superintendent Scot Graden said. “One of things we talked about for a really long time is the historic partnership between the Saline Police Department and Saline Area Schools,” he also said.