West Deer officials approved an agreement with the Deer Lakes School District to station township police officers at each school.
The officers will patrol Curtisville Primary Center, East Union Intermediate Center and Deer Lakes Middle School.
Deer Lakes High School already has a full-time township police officer working as a school resource officer through a previous agreement between the district and the township. Both entities share in the cost of having the school resource officer in place.
Police Chief John Lape said the officers patrolling the other schools will be part-timers working in the department and are not trained to be school resource officers. He said those officers will rotate in patrolling the schools and will not be assigned to a particular school.
“We have eight (part-time) officers and it will be equally distributed among them,” Police Chief John Lape said of the school duty shifts.
The officers will receive the police department’s part-time wage of $18.01 an hour, which will be paid solely by the school district.
Last month, the matter came before the board but no action was taken because details of the agreement had not been fully worked out.
Lape said the arrangement came as the result of discussions between himself and district officials regarding school safety that have been ongoing since April or May.
Previously, Lape said he prefers having a township policeman at each school as opposed to security guards from a private firm.
He said the officers are trained in proper police procedures and are versed in the law.
Another aspect he mentioned is that, by working in the schools, the officers have regular contact with the children and become acquainted with them. He said that when the children become more familiar with the police officers, that makes it much easier for them to come forward and tell the officers when they see or hear something that doesn’t seem right to them.
Tom Yerace is a freelance writer.