Finance to seek funding for SRO
by JOYANNA WEBER, Banner Staff Writer
Feb 13, 2013 | 641 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bradley County Finance Committee members will be asked to find funding for an additional school resource officer, following a request by the law enforcement committee.

The law enforcement group met Tuesday to discuss the need for more SROs.

A motion, made by committee member Jeff Yarber, to send the request to finance was passed unanimously.

Every school currently has an SRO except the alternative school which has less than 100 students.

“That’s what we have pushed for in education ... is as quickly as possible to cover that school, to cover that principal, to cover those kids,” committee member Bill Winters said. “I’m not saying it’s vulnerable. I’m saying there is a need there.”

Committee member Ed Elkins said he did not think finance could find a way to put the position in the current budget.

Winters said the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office patrols the area regularly to provide security.

According to Bradley County Sheriff Jim Ruth, adding an SRO would cost $42,411 for salary and benefits with additional costs for vehicles and equipment.

A grant that created the SRO program originally funded 15 officers.

“I understand there were 17 at one time ... that was before I came,” Ruth said. “When I originally took office there were 15.”

The committee wants to find a way to finance the position in this year’s budget if possible, but definitely in next year’s budget.

Committee member Terry Caywood said he had met with principals to discuss the need. He said Lt. W.G. Campbell works hard to make sure every school is covered even when an SRO is out due to illness.

SROs are to be in the school they are covering at all times, except when they are in court for a school-related issue, Ruth said.

The sheriff pointed out there will be a need for more SROs in the future if the school system grows at the projected rate.

- The committee also heard an update on the inmate medical care contract. The contract will be renewed for three years. Each year the rate will be based on the medical consumer price index.

However, the contract limits the increase to a maximum of 3 percent, according to legislative assistant Amy Moore.

Commission chairman Louie Alford said he would like to see if the contract could include mental evaluations for people arrested on misdemeanor offenses. A motion was passed to see if this could be added.