Sheriff provides SRO update

By Cecilia Fox -

BETHEL TWP. — At their July meeting, the Bethel school board heard an update from the Miami County Sheriff on the district’s new school resource officer.

Sheriff Dave Duchak discussed the responsibilities of an SRO and took questions from the board and from parents.

Deputy Warren Edmondson will be a part-time SRO presence in the schools. The district had an SRO for several years until about seven years ago, Duchak said.

Duchak said Edmondson is very people oriented and is “one of those positive-type personalities.”

“School resource officer isn’t for every law enforcement officer,” Duchak said. School resource officers undergo a lot of extra training, Duchak said.

Superintendent Ginny Potter said Edmondson has already met with some district staff and will meet with teachers.

“We’ve already started working with him. He’s been great,” she said.

Board president Jacob King asked how people should report concerns to the SRO if they think it’s a law enforcement matter concerning the schools.

“For example, a kid puts on Snapchat that they’re dealing drugs… and they’re currently a high school student. Would they share that with the school resource officer or bring that to a principal?” King asked.

Duchak said that concerns after school hours should be reported to the sheriff’s office through the Miami County Dispatch Center non-emergency line. The school resource officer will be able to see those reports.

The school resource officer will collaborate with the district’s administrators and principals to “keep that communication open” Duchak said.

“One of the biggest and most important, in my opinion, parts of the school resource officer program is students get to interact with the officer and get to know him,” Duchak said. That way students won’t be afraid to tell the officer when they think another student may be in some sort of trouble. “That’s the type of stuff we want as far as being able to do a threat assessment and try to intervene before a student possibly does something that we wouldn’t want he or she to do. We want kids coming to us if they notice behavior changes or concerns so we can get involved.”

Duchak said the SRO and the Sheriff’s Officer want to do whatever they can to enhance school security.

King also asked if the sheriff foresees any issues between the implementation of the FASTER program and the new school resource officer. The FASTER program is an emergency response program that trains school personnel to stop violence and provide medical aid. The previous school board approved a concealed carry policy last year.

“No, not at all,” Duchak said. He added that the program looks like very robust training. “We’re a partnership. We’re not over your staff, we work in partnership with them.”

By Cecilia Fox

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