County commission renews SRO contracts

The Callaway County Commission has approved the continuation of the School Resource Officer program in three of the county’s school districts.

The Callaway County Sheriff’s Office provides officers to the school districts of New Bloomfield, South Callaway, and North Callaway.

Sheriff Clay Chism said his officers were always available to help the Fulton School District, but an SRO would have a conversation with the Fulton Police Department.

Under the agreement, the school district pays 65% of the officer’s salary and benefits, and the county pays the remaining 35%.

However, Chism said, the program is approaching a 50-50 split.

The Sheriff’s Office covers all overtime, training, and equipping officers.

“All principals are in complete agreement with this financial formula,” Chism said. “They believe it’s fair for the district, it’s fair for the county and more than anything, it’s fair for the ratepayer.”

So far this school year, SROs have handled 490 details, including events, programs, meetings and counseling sessions.

“I think the point to make is that almost every one of those 490 contacts was a positive contact,” Chism said.

Chism said the goal of the program is to prevent problems at school.

“There’s this national rhetoric that cops are in schools to get kids in trouble. And that’s just not the truth,” he said.

“We have cops in our local schools to prevent trouble and keep kids out of trouble,” he added. “Most of the time, almost all of the time, our school resource officers provide positive support to a child who may be having trouble instead of causing them trouble.”

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