South Beloit considers hiring new school liaison officer

SOUTH BELOIT (WREX) – Months after a school shooting in Dixon was stopped by a school resource officer, other schools in our area are looking to get officers in classrooms.

“Given the times now, it’s definitely a good investment for the district and the city,” South Beloit School District Superintendent Scott Fisher said.

There’s a partnership in the works in South Beloit try and figure out how to get a full-time officer into classrooms.

“For security, we’re always interested in keeping our kids safe, that’s our top priority,” Fisher said.

For the past year, South Beloit CUSD 320 has been working with the police department on how to fund the new officer. And after some good feedback from city council, they’re ready to move forward.

“I was very pleased that all four commissioners and the mayor indicated that it was important,” Police Chief Pat Hoey said.

The plan is to have the schools pay for 75 percent of the liaison officer’s salary of about $90,000 and the city pay the other 25 percent. The officer would move between all five district schools.

“We envision most of the time they’ll be at the high school also at our junior high,” Fisher said.

While a new school liaison officer would help with classroom safety, police and schools agree that it’s also an opportunity to build better relationships.

“Yes, we wanted one for security, but the other thing that our school board wanted was for one that it would be a true liaison go to all schools,” Fisher said.

“I see it as another way to build community relationships, those are tenants of community policing,” Hoey said.

And even though South Beloit has had a school resource officer in the past, leaders say it’s time to reinvest.

Any chance we get for an officer to interact with the community and build trust, this is a great program.

The next step for South Beloit is to draft an intergovernmental agreement. After that, South Beloit police hope to get the officer trained and ready to be in the schools by next fall.

Taylor Utzig

Taylor Utzig

Reporter

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