The Lima City Schools will employ nine school resource officers beginning next school year. One officer will be assigned to each school building.
The Lima School Board approved the measure at its regular board meeting March 26.
The uniformed officers will be sworn members of the Lima Police Department Auxiliary Unit, but employees of the Lima City Schools. Officers will be at their assigned schools 30 minutes before the start of the school day and 30 minutes after. Building principals will decide where they are best needed throughout the school day.
Superintendent Jill Ackerman said it is a proactive way to continue efforts to keep students and staff safe and to build relationships between students and police.
“This is another way for us to protect our buildings from everything on the outside, so we can keep our kids safe and maintain a positive and safe learning environment,” she said.
Ackerman said the district’s decision to bring officers into the schools is an extension of renewed Community Oriented Policing efforts by the Lima Police. It is the district’s way to help build community policing, she said.
The school district and Lima Police received a federal grant to bring one resource officer into the school district this school year. Lima Police Officer Nate Garlock will remain with the district, overseeing the other officers and acting as a liaison between them and Lima Police.
“This will help streamline things,” Garlock said. “One officer for nine buildings became hectic. Now someone will always be there to help out. It puts one more person in those buildings.”
Garlock’s presence has been positive for students and staff, Ackerman said. He has been there to handle situations that come up with students, act as a deterrent, assist staff, and has successfully built strong relationships with students. He also initiated the new Red to Blue program, designed to introduce students to careers in criminal justice fields.
“We have seen in just one school year the positive impact one resource officer can have in our schools,” Ackerman said. “Imagine how great of an impact we can have on safety issues and how much bonding can happen between officers and students with one in each of our buildings.”
The district will begin interviewing candidates early this summer. Lima Police will be involved in the interview process. Officers must have a minimum of three years of experience in law enforcement.