The Greenfield City Board heard from Weakley County Sheriff Mike Wilson regarding the possible addition of School Resource Officers (SROs) throughout Weakley County schools and approved hiring policy changes for the police department in its monthly meeting on Tuesday.
Sheriff Wilson offered an update of the pending action that will add funds to the sheriff’s department budget to cover six new SROs, including one for Greenfield. He explained that in 2000 Martin received a grant for three positions. Three years later the county applied for and received a substantial grant, said Wilson, to cover the other schools but when presented with the overall plan the Weakley County Commission declined the money.
“School safety is the number one issue we are facing today,” noted Wilson of the change in circumstances 15 years later.
“When you were growing up,” he nodded to the Greenfield Board, “you felt safe in three places — church, home and school — and that isn’t the case anymore.”
Wilson explained that some cities are providing additional resources to offset the cost of the initial set up of the positions. As an example, he noted Dresden will be dedicating vehicles they were going to phase out for use by the SROs.
He also pointed out that the Greenfield SRO as well as Dresden, Gleason and Sharon will be under the supervision of the sheriff’s department but also report to the local police chief. During periods when school is not in session, the officers will assume duties within the sheriff’s department. The relationship with Martin SROs, who have been employed by the Martin Police Department since the role’s inception, is still being discussed with the city.
The next steps for the proposal for new officers will be county commission budget approval, applications and then interviews with actual presence of officers in schools possible by the first of the year.
Wilson underscored that he wanted “the people of Greenfield to be a part of the selection process.”
As part of his monthly report, Police Chief Joey Radford requested board affirmation of a policy and procedure change that would add Walters State Community College as a certifiable training police academy and allow for the hiring of a 20-year-old person who meets all the requirements of a police officer and who is Peace Officers Standards and Training-certified or can be POST-certified within six months of his/her 21st birthday.
“These changes are needed to make the city more competitive with other departments who are already practicing these trends,” said Radford. “These changes would allow the city to save money in the future with time and training cost.”
After a brief discussion, the board affirmed the policy changes.
For more on the board meeting, including citizen’s input, see the July 12 edition of the Press.