Cost, number of school officers debated in Oxford

Education stockThe Associated Press

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — The Oxford School Board has approved the hiring of eight police officers for the school system.

The Oxford Eagle reports that the proposal is for the school system will pay for five of the officers — also called resource officers — and the city will pay for three. The city’s board of aldermen must still approve the proposal.

The Oxford school system has nearly 4,000 students.

School officials said they want enough officers to provide for the safety of students, faculty and staff and to manage traffic problems around the schools.

In recent years, the city of Oxford and the Oxford School District have shared the cost of paying for the Oxford Police Department officers who are assigned to the local schools. Although the city of Oxford pulled its share of funding for the police officers a couple of years ago, the two local governments are again sharing the expense.

If the school district pays for the officers, it will have more say on their schedule during the day. If the police department pays for the officers, then the officers can be placed elsewhere in the community as needed if a major situation occurs, said Oxford Police Chief Joey East.

In the light of the Newtown school shooting and other issues in schools across the country and local concerns, Harvey and East agreed this spring to add more officers in the schools for safety.

“With all the increase in school violence, I just feel that is the most precious commodity we have in Oxford,” East said. “I have young children and I just feel that it is a need. Whether they can stop school violence or not is to be seen, but I think it’s all positive.”