SRO rejected, for now: Council shoots down grant, looks to find room in coming budget for officer

Phillip Harden photo
Students walk through Glenrock Intermediate Middle School between classes.

Ethan Brogan

Glenrock Police Chief Tim Hurd’s hopes for a student resource officer (SRO) have been rejected, for the moment.
Glenrock Town Council shot down the proposal from Hurd to acquire a federal grant funded officer, but they are keeping the idea in mind for this year’s budget session.
“We voted unanimously against going after the federal grant. Because the federal grant has some strings attached to it that eliminates the flexibility we believe we should have in Glenrock,” Mayor Doug Frank said. “We had unanimous support for funding the SRO position directly from the town of Glenrock.”
If Hurd got approval for the grant, the SRO hands would be tied on certain employment benefits. The SRO would be unable to accrue vacation time or earn compensatory benefits under the grant and would only be able to work within the schools. Instead, by hiring another officer, they could work the majority of time in the schools and assist GPD officers on weekends or cover shifts.
“While it reduces our cost for funding that position it also ties that particular resource exclusively into the school,” Frank said, remarking the federal government may not have considered four-day school weeks such as the one slated for Glenrock School District.
The previous SRO, Julie Wickett, was able to work in the schools and with extra time leftover in her 40-hour work week she would perform duties of GPD officer, which is what the town is looking to have again.
Additionally, if the SRO was acquired through the grant, their salary would be covered less by the federal government and more by the town each year. The town would pickup 25 percent of his salary in year one, and increase by 25 percent until year four, where their bill becomes the SRO’s entire salary.
“More time in the schools more time to assess what situations or what issues are in each school,” Hurd said. “When you have an officer that is there part time. . . you’re more likely to miss something.”
Currently, Hurd pays regular visits to Grant Elementary while Sgt. Colter Felton watches over the High School and officer Jason Hoppa safeguards the Middle School. If an SRO is worked into council’s budget for next year, the officers would act as the go-to person for each school.
“With the rest of our duties we don’t get as much time as we would like there,” Hurd said. “It doesn’t give us the advantage we would have if we have a full-time SRO for the school.”
Having an SRO will bring more constant interaction with police and students in the schools, which Hurd feels matches his community policing approach.
“You don’t want to focus on the negative of having an armed officer at the school. . . it is not the sole purpose of defending the kids in an attack,” Hurd said, remarking how an SRO would be able to interact with students from a young age to better the relationship between police and students.
Last year, the council reduced the GPD’s budget for an officer by one. With the addition of new officers such as Billy Frieda and Dan Cade, they are currently fully staffed. With the economic upswing expected to persist, the town is looking to re-add funding in next year’s budget to bring back a SRO.
“We will add the position back in and use them for primarily a school resource officer but with the option to use them as needed,” Frank said. This officer will be assigned full time as a school resource officer but there is additional time available in their schedule. . . that will allow them to still remain an active Glenrock Police Officer.”
The town will begin budget talks in the next few weeks and plans to work the SRO position into the discussion.


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