Oltman asks for school resource officerOltman Junior High School administrators want St. Paul Park police to supply a School Resource Officer two days a week starting in September.
By: Toni Lambert, South Washington County Bulletin
Oltman Junior High School administrators want St. Paul Park police to supply a School Resource Officer two days a week starting in September.
Oltman is the only junior high school in the district that doesn’t have an officer, and Principal Rebecca Schroeder said that isn’t right.
“It’s simply a matter of equity,” Schroeder said. “At the moment, Oltman does not receive money designated for school resource officers.
Considering the number of student incidents at Oltman, she said, “we can use some support, we can be proactive.”
St. Paul Park Police Chief Mike Monahan said he’s already talking with Oltman administrators about getting a resource officer. He told the City Council, which met last Tuesday for a special goals and initiatives workshop, that he’s looking at times and cost (of supplying an officer to the school).
The cost of providing an officer to Oltman could be shared with School District 833, Monahan said. The most expensive option is to add an officer to his staff, but other options are being considered.
Mayor John Hunziker said Cottage Grove and Woodbury have large forces and can afford to break an officer free to be in a school.
“Our eight-man staff is always on the street,” he said.
Principal Schroeder said she was surprised — when she came to Oltman last August — the school didn’t have an SRO just like other secondary schools in the district.
With a student population of 700, Schroeder said the number of times police are called per week varies.
“Sometimes it’s twice a week and sometimes it’s four times a week.” Most calls are for fighting, she said.
The Oltman principal has submitted a budget request for help from District 833’s general fund and “they are considering it,” she said.
In the meantime, at least one St. Paul Park police officer or detective walks through the school almost every day, she said.
Resource officer duties
Cottage Grove Police Officer Gail Griffith has been the school resource officer at Cottage Grove Junior High School for the past four years. She is on campus three days a week.
“It’s a unique position,” she said. “I walk the hallways and the lunch room, teach in the classrooms and spend much of my time counseling students, parents and staff.”
“I’m in constant contact with students,” Griffith said. “The SRO gets to know — and be known — by students in a different way. They get to know me as a person and see that police are not all about enforcing laws. They see that I’m human. I understand their problems.”
She said the resource officer works with students and families in a multitude of situations. If the wrong words show up on someone’s MySpace page and they come to school ready for a fight, Griffith serves as mediator. If there is a crime at school, such as a theft from a locker, she investigates and has authority to arrest suspects. If there is a crime in the community and news of it surfaces at the school, she will also investigate. And if there is a domestic issue at home, she said she might be able to help the family.
Toni Lambert can be reached at email@example.com.