By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
WEST MIDDLESEX, FARRELL —
Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Department Chief Riley Smoot Jr. said the department has gotten a preliminary nod from the state for two years of grants to keep a school resource officer in West Middlesex and return one to Farrell.
He said Tuesday he is waiting for an official letter and additional information from the Department of Education.
The grants would be worth $56,000 each, which would cover training, equipment and “a big portion” of the policemen’s salaries, Smoot said.
The chief said he only expected one of the grants to be awarded so he is ecstatic to be getting both.
“That’s an awesome thing to me,” he said of the grants.
Smoot said he expects the Farrell resource officer will not begin until the next school year.
Dan Oster is the resource officer in West Middlesex. Farrell has a security officer funded by the school district.
A resource officer is different from a security officer in that he or she has more contact with students, can train teachers and administrators and becomes part of the administrative team in terms of dealing with or anticipating safety and security issues.
The resource officer sets an example for students as to who the police are and what they are all about, Smoot said.
“Show the police officer as a friend instead of an enemy,” he said. “We’re still people.”
They investigate school-related reports and address issues that occur in the community and might spill over into the school.
“If there’s an issue in the street, he comes into the school and gets a clean footing on a lot of things, working with parents, working with students,” the chief said.
Monica Rose was the last resource officer in Farrell, and she remains on the Southwest force.