SHARPSVILLE — Students in the Sharpsville Area School District may have the chance to get to know one of the borough’s police officers starting next school year.
There has been a police presence at Sharpsville schools for the last few years, with the position alternating among part-time police officers. However, Sharpsville school Superintendent John Vannoy said a full-time school resource officer has additional training and can have a greater impact than a regular-duty patrolman.
“There’s the police component where they can enforce the law, but with an SRO there’s also an educational component where the officer can be in the classroom, and it’s one person who can be with the students all the time,” Vannoy said.
Vannoy made his case for a full-time school resource officer Tuesday during Sharpsville Borough Council’s workshop meeting. Council then gave its unanimous final approval Wednesday at its regular meeting.
Vannoy said Tuesday he and Sharpsville police Chief Christopher Hosa have been discussing assigning a resource officer to district schools.
“It’s unfortunate but schools today are very different than it was when we were kids in school,” Vannoy said.
He said a resource officer also could be used to teach certain topics to the students, such as how to be safe during prom and the ramifications of drunken driving, and could keep teachers informed about the latest trends affecting young people, such as vaping.
Last month, Sharpsville Area School Board approved an agreement where the borough would cover 580 hours of the resource officer’s cost and the school district would pay 1,500 hours of the officer’s salary and benefits.
Councilman Christopher Combine, whose wife is a teacher in the school district, said he was glad to see the level of cooperation between school and borough officials.
“It’s refreshing to see you and Hosa sitting there and working together toward a common goal,” Combine said at Tuesday’s meeting.
Council President John Alfredo echoed Combine’s comments.
“You guys ought to be commended for making the safety of the staff and students at the schools the top priority,” Alfredo said.
Hosa said the borough would send a current full-time Sharpsville police officer to the school, and hire a new full-time officer to fill the vacancy created by the resource officer’s reassignment.
The school district and police department have previously cooperated on efforts including active-shoorter drills, which Hosa said the students take very seriously.
The most recent drill, held Monday, included school and borough officials, and involved about 1,180 students and over 150 staff, Vannoy said.
“Everybody knows what to do, everybody knows where to go, and afterward we had everybody safe and accounted for,” he said. “We even went to some of the classes and tried knocking on doors, but everyone knew not to open them.”
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