In a cooperative effort, Wyoming County Commission members along with Wyoming County Schools officials will work together to provide three Prevention Resources Officers, or sheriff's deputies, in three schools.
If the federal grant funds are approved, those schools will include Westside High, Wyoming County East High, and the Wyoming County Career and Technical Center, according to Robin Hall, assistant superintendent/secondary schools.
The schools were chosen because the students are older, bigger, prone to be more action-oriented, and mental issues are more likely to manifest in that age group, she explained during the commission meeting Wednesday.
The grants will not exceed $28,000, Hall told commission members, and the board of education will pay the difference between the grant funding and deputies' rate of pay.
“Seasoned deputies,” working under the authority of the Wyoming County Sheriff, will be placed in the positions, according to Chief Deputy Brad Ellison.
To replace those three officers in the sheriff's department, three new deputies will have to be hired.
Benefits of the program will include personal interaction between the students and the deputies, as well as having an officer onsite who is trained to identify situations that may escalate into trouble, Hall said.
The deputies will also provide classes that will open discussions on drug abuse, tobacco, and cyber bullying, among other topics for the students.
“(An active shooter) may not ever happen,” Mike Prichard, board of education president, told commission members. “But, we've seen on the news, it does happen.”
Hall said the grant could be approved for only one deputy, or two, or three, or none.
The cost to the commission will come in providing uniforms, weapons, and vehicles for three additional deputies, according to officials.
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Wyoming County Emergency Services, the Sheriff's Department, and schools officials have already been working together to improve response plans in the schools.
Three drills have been completed thus far, Dean Meadows, county Emergency Services director, explained.
Through the drills, officials learned that communication is the key, Meadows said.
“We learned we're lacking in some areas of communications,” he said, emphasizing officials have been working to improve those areas.
The sheriff's deputies in the schools will provide one more layer of protection for the students and the staff, officials maintain.