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Waynesboro council supports putting police officers in schools

January 24, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The Waynesboro Borough Council on Wednesday agreed on a 5-1 vote to support applying for grant money that would pay the salary, benefits and equipment costs to place a full-time police officer in the local middle and high schools.

"I feel the schools should take care of this themselves and the borough should not be involved," said Councilman Charles "Chip" McCammon, who was the dissenting vote.

The grant application, which was supported by the Waynesboro Area School Board, required a "memorandum of understanding" with the police department. The three-year grant program requires an increasing amount of local matching funds, which the school board said it would find from sources other than taxes for its general fund.

"No public tax money is going to be used for this," said K. Marilyn Smith, the only school board member who attended Wednesday's council meeting.

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Earlier this week, representatives of the borough and school district developed the memorandum of understanding. A copy of the memorandum given to the media shows that it addresses goals of enhancing safety and security; promoting positive choices for students; and improving interactions between school officials and law enforcement justice agencies.

The borough would search for a candidate from within its force to become the school resource officer if the program is initiated for the 2008-09 school year. Another officer would then be hired to fill the vacancy.

Smith said the program would be evaluated once the grant expired.

"It's disappointing it's come to this, however, in my line of work, working with the juveniles that I do ... (and) with the things they've done to get where I work, I think it's definitely something we should pursue," said Councilman Jason Stains, who is a counselor at Cornell Abraxas Youth Center.




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The issue: The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency offers grant money over three years to pay for a full-time police officer in schools.

What's happened: Grant money from the PCCD was awarded to Waynesboro in 2007, but ultimately rejected locally. The Waynesboro Area School Board agreed on Jan. 15 to support a new application. The Waynesboro Borough Council lent its support on Wednesday.

What's next: The application will be submitted this week.

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