Number of officers assigned to schools will go from 1 to 2

By ANDREW MARTINS
Staff Writer

The number of police officers who patrol Jackson’s schools on a daily basis will double from one in 2014-15 to two in 2015-16 after representatives from the municipality and the Jackson School District recently came to terms on a sharedservices agreement.

According to the agreement, the township will provide two police officers to serve as school resource officers (SRO) and patrol the district’s 10 schools.

Superintendent of Schools Stephen Genco said the SRO program has been a boon to the district since its reinstatement during the 2013-14 school year.

“The school resource officer program is effective because it builds relationships between the students and law enforcement,” Genco said.

From September 2003 through June 2010, the Jackson Police Department had SROs stationed in Jackson Memorial High School, Jackson Liberty High School and the Goetz and McAuliffe middle schools.

The township paid the salaries of the SROs, who are regular officers in the Jackson Police Department. As a result of budget issues faced by the township and the school district, a sharedservices pact to operate the SRO program never came to fruition, according to police. The program was suspended at the conclusion of the 2009-10 school year.

Under the new agreement, the school district has committed to pay $85,000 to have the two SROs in schools from September through June.

The school district’s monetary commitment does not include any benefits afforded to the police officers, according to district spokeswoman Allison Erwin.

When school is not in session, the township will pay the officers’ salary and benefits.

“To be able to expand the program is significant because one officer cannot be in nearly enough places at once in a district our size,” Genco said. “We are absolutely thrilled to be able to partner with the township to bring another SRO into our students’ educational experience.”

Contact Andrew Martins at amartins@gmnews.com.