Chief Adam Harmon speaks to the board. Board members pictured include President Thomas Howell and Teresa Woodard.

HOUSTON • The Chickasaw County Consolidated School District discussed the possibility of hiring a School Resource Officer for the upcoming school year.

The discussion was about Houston, however, they are also working to get one for Houlka as well.

Houston Police Chief Adam Harmon came before the board and talked a little bit about what it would entail.

“As you all know, the way times are, we need an officer at the school,” said Harmon.

He said that the officer would be an asset to have on campus, because they could help with things that teachers are not qualified for such as drugs, no driver’s license and traffic as well as crisis planning and such.

He also said it helps bridge the gap between the youth and the police by giving the badge a face.

“When you get that office in that school, and they get to know these kids, and you’d be surprised the kids that go hungry or have some problems at home or that’s been abused, and they build trust in this officer and they go to this officer and say ‘hey, I’m having this problem, and they know it won’t go anywhere else. They build that trust.”

The district has some Title IV money that was allocated to Houston to pay a SRO salary for the 2020-2021 school year, however, the officer they had did not return and they did not get a new one.

“There was an SRO in Houston two years ago,” said Superintendent John Ellison. “That officer did not return and that position was not filled. I checked and that money was allocated, it was federal funds from Title IV and it was not used, so that money is still there. I also, from looking at our Title Budget that we received for next year, I don’t see any issue for us paying half the salary for an office through Title IV. We could also do the exact same thing in Houlka, and I reached out to the Police Chief there last Thursday and he said he was going to speak to the mayor and see if they would be interested in doing the same thing there and us pay half of an SRO salary. But, I do think it is money well spent.”

Harmon said that he would have to get the city on board with the idea because they got burned last time with the former SRO working for the school then turning around and working for the city at night, which brought about over time, which the school board refused to pay half of since it was not during school hours.

He said that this officer would only be allowed to work the school and nothing else while school was in session 10 months out of the year.

He suggested that the school consider paying the officer’s full salary for the school months, then they would be paid by the city during the other non-school months.

“I am going to have to sell this to the board,” said Harmon. “Last time they said they got burned because of the overtime. 10 months out of the year, that officer is going to be working for the school system, so I am going to have to see, and they may bawk on paying half.”

The board voted to go ahead with trying to get an officer for the school, and Harmon said he will go before the board and see what comes of it.

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