More police officers in DeKalb schools? District 428 requests 3 more school resource officers

DeKalb schools could see more police school resources officers in the coming year, as the school board is expected this week to review a request to double the number of SROs in the district from three to six. Danielle Sorenson, (right, shown here during a Heroes for Helpers event at Target in DeKalb), is a school resource officer with the DeKalb School District.

DeKALB – DeKalb schools could see more police school resources officers in the coming year, as the school board is expected this week to review a request to double the number of SROs in the district from three to six.

The topic will be discussed at Tuesday’s DeKalb School District 428 board meeting, held 7 p.m. at the district’s Education Center, 901 S. Fourth St. in DeKalb. According to documents released ahead of the meeting, district officials said the request is because of the number of behavior-related calls the SROs have had to respond to so far in the 2021-22 school year.

Since the beginning of the school year, the DeKalb High School school resource officer responded to 418 calls for police service, according to district documents. The reasons for these calls include, but are not limited to, fights, gun threats, drug possession and/or distribution and general intimidation.

As part of DeKalb city ordinance, individuals who fight within city limits are issued a citation, according to the documents. When fights occur in schools, the SRO is responsible for issuing the citations. Since the beginning of the school year, more than 30 fights at district schools resulted in citations to those involved, according to the documents.

The school district currently has one SRO at DeKalb High School, one SRO split between the two middle schools, and a third SRO split between the eight elementary schools. The school district has an intergovernmental agreement with the city of DeKalb’s police department to share costs of their salaries and benefits at a rate of 75% of their contract, according to the documents.

The cost for the 2021-22 school year was approximately $143,000 for each of the SROs, for a total cost of $430,000.

The requested SRO positions would provide one additional SRO to DeKalb High School, one to the two middle schools and one shared among the elementary schools. The three SROs would cost the district $430,000.

Since classes began in August, the school resource officer for the district’s two middle schools, Huntley Middle and Clinton Rosette, has responded to 301 calls for police intervention.

Since the beginning of the school year, 12 citations and police reports also were the results of battery reported at DeKalb schools, according to the documents. Additional reasons for police involvement for incidents throughout the school year have included theft, drug activity, sex offenses and disorderly conduct of a juvenile.

As a result of increased behavioral issues in the schools, according to the documents., SROs are seeking additional support to address the needs of the buildings they support “due to the aggressive nature of the offense and/or those involved.”

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