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New SRO to start this week, another by year-end

The first of Washington County’s three new School Resource Officers was expected to join the team this week.
Director of Schools Ron Dykes said training requirements should allow the second SRO to begin work by the end of the year, with the third coming on at the first of 2014.
While SROs are assigned permanently at each high school, the county’s other four have rotated among the system’s elementary and middle schools.
“By February, we should have (every) two schools sharing one SRO,” Dykes said.
Funding for SROs was a priority this year for the federal Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, which announced its list of 2013 grantees last week.
Applicants who requested officer positions to deploy SROs received additional consideration.
Almost $45 million was provided for a total of 356 SROs at 141 agencies in 42 states.
The Johnson City Bureau of Police received almost $500,000 for four SROs. Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department received $1 million for eight SROs.
Washington County did not receive funding, nor did it apply for a COPS grant.
“We had already gotten into negotiations with the Public Safety Committee and the commission, and everyone seemed to like what we were doing,” Sheriff Ed Graybeal said when questioned as to why the county did not apply.
Graybeal said the county doesn’t usually apply for matching grants or ones that have an end date.
The COPS grant required a commitment to retain the SROs after the 36-month-period of federal funding to cover salary and benefits for each position. A 25 percent local match also was required.
After much discussion on increasing the number of SROs, Washington County approved a three-year strategy that will add 10 new SROs over the next three years.
The first year includes hiring and training three SROs and a full-time supervisor.
Approximately $200,000 for uniforms and some equipment will be paid from the General Fund budget. WCSO will provide the cars for the new officers and purchase the needed firearms using money from the Drug Fund.
Three additional officers will be hired during each of the next two years.
The WCSO patrol division will supplement the schools until a full team of SROs is in place.
The original request to hire 10 new SROs in the first year had an estimated price tag of $2 million including the share to Johnson City Schools plus recurring annual salary expenses of $1.4 million.