Deputy presence continues at elementary level

Shot of the office at Oak Valley Union School from a left view.(Kenny Goodman)

The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office renews contracts with three elementary schools for School Resource Officers on campus

TULARE COUNTY –  Three schools will continue to have a deputy on campus after they renewed their contracts at the board of supervisors meeting.

On June 6, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors approved an agreement with three elementary school districts to provide school resource officers (SRO) through the next school year. The three school districts included Kings RIver Elementary, Palo Verde Elementary and Oak Valley Elementary. Tulare County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) media specialist Ashley Schwarm said SRO’s are a valuable resource that helps not only schools, but the community.

“These partnerships are not only beneficial to the schools, as they provide added safety on campuses, but they are beneficial to our deputies as well,” Schwarm said. “Having deputies on campus helps foster a relationship between students and law enforcement officers, which overflows into the community.”

This is a program that has been happening for several years and each year these contracts come up for renewal. There are currently nine schools in the county that have SRO’s on campus according to Schwarm.

“When kids see law enforcement officers as a source of protection and safety on campus, it creates a more comfortable learning environment,” Schwarm said. “And it also gives that deputy a clearer picture of the community they serve.”

Each school district’s policy is slightly different, but each district is responsible for the officer’s salary. According to the staff report, under the agreement, the deputy provides a visible law enforcement presence on campus. They assist school officials in enforcing school rules and laws and they utilize intervention and prevention skills with students that are involved in criminal activity. The SRO also acts as a resource deputy for school personnel and provides classroom instruction on law enforcement issues such as gang awareness.

The board of supervisors approved the Sheriff’s Office to provide School Resource Officer services on Palo Verde Union Elementary School District campus, in an amount not to exceed $44,846. This contract will be effective August 10, 2023 through June 6, 2024. The  agreement with the Oak Valley Union School District was also for an amount not to exceed $44,846, but will be effective August 9, 2023 through June 7, 2024.

As for the agreement with the Kings River Union Elementary School District, the Sheriff’s Office will provide School Resource Officer services on the district campus, in an amount not to exceed $39,829. It will be effective August 7, 2023 through May 31, 2024.

The TCSO will be compensated up to their determined amount of money by each elementary school district for the salary, benefits and operating costs for the School Resource Officer. Compensation revenue to the Sheriff’s Office will be included in the Sheriff’s Fiscal Year 2023/24 recommended budget. There is no additional net County cost to the General Fund according to the staff report.

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