Governments Add School Resource Officer Coverage

Schools in the DeSoto County School District (DCS) will have a School Resource Officer (SRO) on each school campus this year in what has become a cooperative effort between the district, county supervisors and governments. municipal.

In most cases, a local police officer is on staff during the school day, except in unincorporated areas of the county, where the sheriff’s department is responsible.

But the sheriff’s department will now staff deputies at all five Horn Lake schools, five of 10 Southaven schools and the Career Tech Center-West campus in Horn Lake.

Supervisors had been working towards this and it was confirmed as part of county budget discussions this week.

Supervisory board chairman Michael Lee said his board, DCS school officials and the governments of Southaven and Horn Lake are coming together to make this happen.

Prior to this school year, DeSoto County deputies were on staff at the 10 DCS schools in unincorporated areas of the county. As a district, DCS school officials said there were 30 SROs in 39 schools last year. Every school was covered, but officers might not spend an entire day on one campus, but might rotate to different schools.

In forming the DCS school budget this summer, Supt. Cory Uselton proposed and had approved at least $2 million for school resource officers with the goal of having an officer on every campus.

But city and county money also funds the presence of the SRO in their respective public schools, as officers are still part of their departments.

Where the possibility of an officer shortage seemed to arise, at the start of the school year, was at Horn Lake, where only two of the five schools would have staff.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Michael Lee said Horn Lake has now agreed to provide funding to help equip officers, but staffing of Horn Lake schools will now be handled by the sheriff’s department.

“The county supports the five Horn Lake schools with the sheriff’s department,” Lee said. “Horn Lake helps make up the difference between what the school board and the sheriff’s department pay. We physically install assistants in these schools.

In Southaven, city officials had asked the county to help staff five of its 10 public schools, said Lee, who said deputies would now be in five schools and Southaven police officers in the other five. .

“We’ve supported 10 additional schools on top of the 10 we already cover,” Lee said. “The Superintendent. Uselton also requested that we cover Career Tech West.

As a result, 27 SRO assistants are assigned to DeSoto County schools this school year; 15 who were already funded, plus the 11 additional deputies assigned, and another SRO who will serve in a “floating” role if needed and cover sick days, holidays, overtime, etc.

“Horn Lake is helping us with that and we’re helping Southaven,” Lee said. “This would not be possible without everyone coming together. All cities, the mayors and aldermen of each city, and the school district.

Police officers Hernando and Olive Branch cover all schools within their city limits.

The county’s decision was pushed to ensure they were on staff with the start of the school year.

During school district budget discussions, Uselton said earlier this summer that school safety issues didn’t just arise after the tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, but are a preoccupation of the district for years.

“In 2019-20, we started donating $750,000 from our budget each year to help school resource officers,” Uselton said. “We’re not just starting now to try to increase the number of school resource officers. This has been an ongoing effort over the past few years.

In 2017-18, there were 15 School Resource Officers covering 38 schools and no funding from the school district. In 2018-19, 50% of schools were covered by an ORS, and the district is over 75% covered every year since then. Last year, there were 30 SROs covering the 39 schools in the district. Every school was covered, but not all SROs were on campus all day.

Lee posted to social media on Tuesday following budget discussions with the sheriff’s department about deputies being added as SROs.

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