CUMBERLAND — Recent agreements signed by the Allegany County Board of Education and various branches of law enforcement have helped the school board achieve its desired goal of fully staffing area schools with nine police officers.
“We expect to be fully staffed after the Christmas break,” said Mike Llewellyn, board member and the security liaison to law enforcement.
After the school board worked over the summer to get seven officers in place, the final two positions in the nine-person rotation are expected to be filled soon by the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office is in the process of hiring and training two school resource officers who are expected to be on duty by early January, according to Mike Llewellyn.
“It will make us that much safer. I’m very proud of this,” said Llewellyn.
The agreements, known as memorandums of understanding, bring the nine security officers into the schools as follows:
• One Frostburg police officer for Mountain Ridge High School and Beall and Frost Elementary
• One sheriff’s deputy for the Alternative School in Eckhart
• Two Cumberland police officers for the city schools
• Three retired state troopers hired by the school board for rotation in outlying schools
• Two sheriff’s deputies to join the rotation in outlying schools
All officers participating will be able to teach the drug awareness program known as DARE. However, not all of the security officers will have obtained the added distinction of being a school resource officer.
An SRO certification requires additional training and education.
The memorandum of understanding states the officers will serve as role models with a mission of reducing and preventing school-related violence and crime committed by juveniles and adults.
The security officers will provide safety for students, faculty, staff and all people involved with the school, according to the MOU.
“I appreciate the county commissioners stepping up and the patience of the sheriff’s office,” said Llewellyn.
According to the MOU, the board pays $30,000 toward the cost of the Frostburg police officer. The board also pays $47,780 to the sheriff’s office for the services of the deputy at the Alternative School.
The board pays the full cost of three retired state troopers used in the outlying schools at around $120,000 annually. The cost of the two new SROs being hired by the sheriff’s office to join the outlying school’s rotation will be paid by Allegany County and is expected to cost around $90,000.
“It’s a patchwork quilt, but I think it is all going to work,” said Llewellyn.
Llewellyn said a recent incident at Morgantown High School where a student stabbed another student shows it can happen anywhere.
“That case involved a bullying situation. You just never know,” said Llewellyn.
The Allegany County Health Department is also expanding its counseling services in an effort to enhance the mental health component of the problem, according to Llewellyn.
“In a free society, we tend to surround ourselves with who we want to. In the school system, we deal with everybody,” said Llewellyn.
Attempts to reach Sheriff Craig Robertson were unsuccessful.
Greg Larry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org