Security grants aid school districts in region

djournal-education-newsBy Bobby Harrison

Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – New Albany Superintendent Jackie Ford said state funds awarded to keep resource officers in his district’s schools would help ensure safety and a peace of mind for the parents of students.

“You got to have safety precautions,” said Ford. “You take all precaution. You try to do everything you can to make the schools safe.”

New Albany received state grants totaling $30,000 to help train and place three school resource officers in its schools. One will be placed in the elementary schools and the existing resource officers in the high school and middle school “will be enhanced.”

Grants totaling $1.57 million were approved last week by the state Board of Education for 157 resource officers in 50 school districts. The grants were made available thanks to the Mississippi Community Oriented Policing bill passed by the 2014 Legislature.

“I’m proud we can place 157 additional trained officers in Mississippi schools to protect the precious lives of children,” said Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who proposed the legislation after the 2012 Newtown, Conn., school shooting that resulted in the death of 26, including 20 children.

“MCOPS is an example of a state and local community partnership that can provide a service citizens want, and I look forward to seeing even more schools take advantage of the program in the future,” Reeves said.

Other Northeast Mississippi school districts receiving grants through the program were Aberdeen, $20,000 for two officers; Amory, $10,000 for one officer. Holly Springs, $10,000 for one officer; Starkville, $10,000 for one officer; and Tishomingo County, $70,000 for seven officers.

The security officers will undergo a week-long training session in December conducted by the departments of Public Safety and Education. With the training, the officers will receive certification.

The state is providing $10,000 for each officer, and communities must pick up the rest. Most school districts have some type of security in the schools while many might not have the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training and certification.

bobby.harrison@journalinc.com