When Johnson City Police Chief Mark Sirois received word Friday afternoon that his department had been awarded a grant to add new school resource officer positions, he was said he couldn’t wait to get busy.
“We’re very pleased with the award, and we’re looking forward to implementing it,” Sirois said.
U.S. Attorney William C. Killian was the one to deliver the good news to the police chief via telephone.
The grant, to the tune of $439,077, from the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services, allows the police to add four positions to their city school system.
This would bring the total of SRO officers to 10, a number which Sirois says will only make schools safer.
“We were fairly well covered with six,” Sirois said. “But with four more, we can increase safety and security in our eight schools.”
Sirois said the new officers would be placed in city elementary schools.
Initially, when applying for the grant in May, Sirois said they ran the plan past the City Commission. The plan calls for a match of 25 percent of the grant from the city, what Sirois called a 75/25 split. That would bring the total of money for the positions to $585,436.
The commissioners have to re-approve the plan for it to go into effect, but Sirois isn’t worried that they might have changed their mind.
He expects the commissioners to take up the decision at the Oct. 17 meeting.
Sirois said they’ve had a good track record with grant applications.
“These positions will provide for us many benefits,” Sirois said. “We will have a greater opportunity to build relationships with students, and a chance to identify and solve problems.”
According to Department of Justice press release, the COPS office aimed to create 937 law enforcement positions in 263 cities and counties. The office plans to award $125 million to its national program, with $45 million to 356 new SRO positions.
Winners of the grants were selected based on their fiscal needs, local crime rates and local law enforcement plans, the release said. This year specifically, monies were given to those seeking assistance in developing school safety programs that would include hiring an SRO.
The grants offer salary and benefits to officers for three years.