PEARCY, Ark. (AP) - The Garland County Sheriff’s Department now has a deputy at each of the county’s seven public school districts.
The Lake Hamilton School Board, at its May 21 meeting, approved a contract with the sheriff’s department naming Lake Hamilton alum Richard Huffman as the district’s school resource officer.
Garland County Sheriff Mike McCormick said that one of his goals, if elected, was to add a school resource officer to each of the school districts in the unincorporated areas of Garland County. With Huffman’s appointment, all districts within the county have a sheriff’s deputy on campus, the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record reported .
“I’m very pleased that we now have a deputy in every school,” McCormick said, adding that this is “a tremendous asset” to the community.
Lake Hamilton Superintendent Steve Anderson said the contract for $61,000 will cover the cost of having the deputy on campus and use of a car from the sheriff’s department. McCormick said the school district is fully funding the position.
“He is still a Garland County sheriff’s deputy and he will still work for Sheriff McCormick,” Anderson said. “We have a long history of working very well with the sheriff’s department in Garland County. We’re very proud to be able to enter this step and I think it will be a very positive thing both for the sheriff’s office and the school, but also the community out here, as well.”
According to McCormick, school resource officers have three main roles. First and foremost, the SRO is on campus to ensure the safety of students and staff, but additionally, they serve as a liaison between the sheriff’s department and juvenile court, and as an educator on subjects pertaining to law enforcement.
McCormick said nine candidates put in for the position at Lake Hamilton. Candidates go through an interview-type process meeting representatives from the school district and an assessment.
“It’s critical that we match the right deputy with the right school district,” McCormick said, noting his department has had success placing deputies in the districts because the districts are involved in the assessment process.
McCormick said Huffman will complete his SRO training through the Criminal Justice Institute in Little Rock. Huffman is currently a K-9 handler and McCormick said the department is in the process of filling that role.
Huffman will officially start in August, but has already been on campus for different staff training opportunities, Anderson said. The deputy will not only be a uniformed presence, but he will assist with other duties around campus.
“We want him to be an extension of our educational program. He will be available to speak to classes about law enforcement, about the judicial system, about laws and following the laws and the way things are handled from a law enforcement end,” he said.
“We also want him to build a relationship with our students and our faculty, and our community, and just to be a good resource out here. We see him as more than just an armed man with a badge, but he will be part of our team,” Anderson said.
Information from: The Sentinel-Record, http://www.hotsr.com
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