Coweta adds 2 officers to elementary schools
A March 19 request by Coweta County Sheriff Mike Yeager led to the unanimous approval by the Coweta County Commission to provide half-funding for two additional school resource officers (SRO) to provide support in the elementary schools in the unincorporated areas.
Sheriff Mike Yeager told commissioners the need for additional school resource officers came at the request of the school system after the recent school shooting in Connecticut.
Yeager noted that school resource officers have been in place at middle and high schools in unincorporated areas of the county since 2006, with the cost of salaries, benefits and vehicle costs being split evenly between the county and the school system. Yeager added that the Newnan has a similar agreement with the school system for schools located within the city.
“Through discussions with school system staff and sheriff’s office staff it has been determined that an increased law enforcement presence is needed at the elementary schools located outside Newnan,” Yeager said. Yeager said the school system is working with Newnan and the Newnan Police Dept. to provide support at elementary schools within the city.
Yeager proposed adding the two additional school resource officers to the four already being utilized at elementary schools for the Project SAFE drug awareness program. He said the approximate annual cost of the county’s share of one-half of the salaries and benefits would be $72,000 in addition to a cost of $5,000 per officer for equipment.
It was obvious that a total of six resource officers would not be able to provide continuous support for all the elementary schools in the unincorporated areas but it would provide an increased law enforcement presence, Yeager said.
As for what it would take to provide a school resource officers at all the county’s elementary schools, Yeager in response to that question by commissioners said, “It would take a lot more officers.”
Commissioner Al Smith during the discussion asked Yeager for his opinion on how school shootings might be prevented. Yeager said a significant part of the issue comes from people with mental health issues, adding that county jails are one of the largest mental health provides even though jails are not set up to provide those services.