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Weiser Police Department Receives Help with School Resource Officers Costs

By Sandra L. Cooper

School Resource Officers play an important role within communities and their presence in school hallways is vital in today’s world.  Funding for SROs can be a challenge in many smaller municipalities and Weiser found itself in that situation several years back.  Until then, Superintendent Wil Overgaard explained, the school district had funds to pay for half of the expenses of keeping a resource officer in the schools.  Budget cuts made that no longer possible and the City of Weiser had to provide all the funding to keep a resource officer in local schools. 
That is changing since the Weiser School District became eligible for about $20,000 in grant funding provided by Idaho’s Safe and Drug Free Schools program. Money for the program comes from lottery and tobacco tax revenue collected by the state.  Superintendent Overgaard recently presented Weiser Police Chief Carl Smith a check for $5,000 by to help with the expenses of providing a resource officer to the schools. The district has plans to follow up with additional funding that should total $12,000 to $15,000 in subsidy to the police department, a most welcome assistance.  
Chris Hagans is serving his fourth year as the School Resource Officer and expressed that he wants to show young people that a policeman’s role is not just “to enforce the law and come and take people away,” but that he is there to help out as well. He is well-suited for the task and works well with the younger folks as he splits his time between the high school and middle school.  He is a Weiser Police Department employee and has been on the city’s force full-time for twenty-two years.  His experience has been a valuable asset in assisting with creating security plans within the school district.
He is working with district administrators to develop increased awareness of security issues as well as exercises involving “active shooter” scenarios.  WPD coordinated installation of manual alarm systems at all four schools, increasing security.  Hagans acts as the liaison between the school district and Weiser Police Department and other local agencies, and as such, he has maps and keys to the district’s school buildings in the event of an emergency.
Hagans’s presence in the schools has helped to deter bullying situations that occur not only in the schools’ hallways, but he also addresses the growing trend of cyberbullying using social media. Wil Overgaard commented that it has a very negative impact on the schools and students and that it is a serious problem for schools to deal with effectively. He said Hagans has been a good resource in that area as well and that he does a good job communicating with the students and is well-liked by them.
Former Police Chief Greg Moon asked the school district in May to consider subsidizing the city for its expense of assigning a resource officer to Weiser schools.  Weiser School District trustees, at Overgaard’s request, approved between $12,000 and $15,000 of their Safe Schools funding to assist the city with providing the SRO.  Superintendent Overgaard said he had recommended that the district uses the available funds to continue supporting the SRO position, but said the trustees will study the situation further to provide additional funding for the vital SRO position. 

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