Princeton City Council pulls all funding for school resource officers

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With student safety a priority, the assistant superintendent of North Gibson County Schools, Eric Goggins, wants more officers in the schools. 

“We’re going to do anything within our means to make sure we have good coverage,” Goggins says. 

Princeton police chief Derek McGraw says he went to city council Monday to request an additional two police resource officers to be within the schools, but instead, council denied that request and pulled all funding for the current resource officer position. 

And it’s something parent Seth Whitehead is worried about. 

“I feel like there should always be money in the budget for something like that but it does make me feel good there still trying to make it happen.”

Come January, that position will no longer be funded by the city. 

“We’re still going to have that in place when the school year starts, so now we just have to be working on when we no longer have, an officer that we’ve had for many years, that position, and how we’re going to cover that,” Goggins says. 

Goggins explains the school year will start the same as last year, with two resource officers within the school district. 

The first resource officer position is currently a budgeted position, which will no longer be funded come 2019. 

The second resource officer position was implemented last school year after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. That position is made up of off-duty officers who rotate, paid out of the Secured School Grant and school matching funds, which totals $100,000. 

“180 days we have an officer but it’s police officers from the Princeton Police Department who are not on duty for the police department but are on duty for us for that second position, so we’ll have to cover our initial position as well,” Goggins says. 

But how will that second rotating position be paid? 

Goggins says they’re looking at using the Secured School Grant and school matching funds. 

“All they’re losing is the same face police officer that they’ve known and has been in the school for five years,” McGraw says. “They are losing that officer, however, they’re not losing that position meaning there will be a body in that building that is a school resource officer.”

Chief McGraw says as long as he’s chief, there will be a school resource officer presence within the school district. 

“There are people out there with the mindset is to kill children for whatever reason and we need to be in front of those bullets,” McGraw says. 

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(This story was originally published July 19, 2018)

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