Police requests additional school officer
by Emily Adams
SYLACAUGA – Police Chief Chris Carden asked the city to consider adding a second School Resource Officer at a City Council work session Monday night.

The SRO is present in schools all day, each school day and manages any incidents that arise on campus. Three sworn positions at the Police Department were cut in 2008, leaving Officer Willie Kidd as the only SRO for four city schools.

After recently revising the school safety plans, Carden said he and Student Services Coordinator Bobby Hall agree the schools would greatly benefit from a second officer.

“I’m not going to come up here and pull on your heartstrings and say, ‘It’s for the kids,’ but, you know, it is what it is,” Carden told the council. “The numbers are here, and I’m not going to make a big, long spiel about how bad we need it.”

Costs for the two SRO positions will ideally be split between the city and the Board of Education at about $22,000 each over a contracted period of three years, Carden said. In addition, the city and BOE are asked to split the purchase price of a vehicle for the position at about $8,800 each. Carden said the council needs to be sure the city can continue to fund the position down the line.

“I just want us to be comfortable with the money and make a good decision,” he said.

Council President Rocky Lucas supported the proposal.

“Looking around, I think everybody has kids or grandkids in the school system, and my wife works there,” Lucas said. “I’m not sure if the question is can we afford to do it; I think it’s can we afford not to do it, because, God forbid, we say we don’t have the funds to do this, and something happens.”

With the additional SRO, duties would be split with one officer serving Sylacauga High and Pinecrest Elementary schools and the other at Nichols-Lawson Middle and Indian Valley Elementary schools.

Carden said he will present the same proposal to the BOE at its Jan. 22 meeting.

Also at the work session, the council discussed changes to its board appointment policy. Councilmen were in agreement to remove a two-term limit placed on board appointments, saying it keeps willing and able board members from serving the city. They talked about other changes, including deleting a line about board members being removed from office because of poor attendance and not allowing one person to serve on two city-appointed boards at once.

Also, Councilman Joe Hogan suggested that the city set some kind of standard to receive fiscal accountability updates from the contracted entities that it provides funds to in the budget each year. Hogan said the city needs to make sure its investments are making good returns instead of simply giving money away. Other councilmen agreed that would be a good practice.

The council also discussed airport runway repairs and heard from Sherry Unger of The Daily Home about purchasing an ad in an upcoming promotion.

The council meets tonight at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

Contact Emily Adams at eadams@dailyhome.com.

© 2013