Providing a full-time school resource officer at Mercer County Junior High School in Joy is being considered by the Mercer County Board.
Mercer County Sheriff Dusty Terrill broached the subject at the board's July 2 meeting.
“This is the school last year where we had one of the students actually have a firearm in the building,” he said.
Currently, a deputy is present at the school for four hours each day, but it’s not always the same officer. Terrill said the Mercer County School Board wants to have a dedicated officer present each day. “Eight hours Monday through Friday — that way, that deputy can build better relationships with students,” he said.
He said the school board would reimburse the county the cost of hiring an additional officer, covering all but the time school is out during the summer.
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He estimated the cost to the county to hire a full-time, specially trained deputy to be around $16,792. During the summer, he said, he could recoup about $8,000 of that from revenue generated by that officer during patrol.
“I urge you guys to remember that especially law enforcement is a service entirely. It’s not meant to be only a revenue-generating function,” Terrill said.
The board discussed at length the benefits of a school resource officer and if the county could come up with the money. Board members expressed some concerns that resource officers would be requested for every school in the county.
“We’re drowning in debt; we can’t cover the bills that we have week to week, month to month. We’re having to take loans out. ... Is there anything you can do internally? Think outside the box,” said Carlos Sarabasa, R-Aledo, board chair. “I am 100% behind what you’re proposing. ... We just don’t have the funding right now.”