School District, City sign intergovernmental agreement to pay for SRO officer
While the signing of an intergovernmental agreement between the City of Molalla and the Molalla River School District may not carry the same weight as an international agreement, it's big and important news for Molalla residents, students and teachers.
On July 16, Tony Mann, district superintendent and Dan Huff, city manager, signed an agreement to pay equally for the use of a school resource officer for the district. The pact will use a school resource officer from the Molalla Police Department to work with students, teachers and the district, providing mentoring, safety and leadership throughout district schools, but primarily in the middle and high schools.
The cost to both the city and district will run about $50,000 each, although the police department/city will pay for start-up costs such as a police car and equipment.
"I'm super excited to see this happen," said Mann. "This partnership is a real gift. It shows more investment in our youth and schools. This starts at the relationship level. It's built on trust. We now have an agreement with the flexibility to make our programs the best they can be," he said at the signing.
"Two government bodies uniting together shows a good use of resources," added Huff, after signing the agreement. "It's important that both government parties have this agreement. This came from both the district and the city providing the commitment where these kinds of things can happen," he said.
The two acknowledged the resource officer would be wherever he needs to be, but not in the role of a disciplinarian, according to Mann; that's the school's job. The SRO will be flexible, he said.
"This is not a crime and punishment job, it's a partnership for safety and security. It's mentorship and leadership in school and conversations about what these students want to be, and how to get there," he added.
For example, he might assist in a constitution law class or with a science teacher showing the use of fingerprints. The officer becomes a partner coaching students and providing more effective use of resources, said Police Chief Rod Lucich.
It's actually a crime prevention role," noted Lieutenant Frank Schoenfeld, who came out of retirement from the Canby Police Department to join Molalla Police in 2016. At this point, no officer has yet been assigned, but plans are to have one when school starts.