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State to fund officers in schools

Governor Tim Kaine announced yesterday that the city of Suffolk would receive about $125,000 in grant money to support the school system’s resource officer program.

With this money, every middle and high school in Suffolk will have its own resource officer next year.

Currently, each of the high schools has an assigned resource officer, but there is just one officer going between the four middle schools.

“School resource officers are in public schools for couple of reasons,” said Suffolk Police Chief Thomas Townsend. “They provide a uniformed police presence to enhance the security within the school and to act as a resource to teach a number of the different public safety classes.”

Townsend said some of those classes include the DARE program and Class Action, a course about constitutional rights and responsibilities.

“They do live up to their name as being a school resource,” Townsend said. “They are resources to the schools, aside from adding that uniform security.”

Suffolk Public Schools and the city of Suffolk applied together for the grant, and the money covers 70 percent of the benefits and salaries for three more resource officers. The school system will pay the remaining 30 percent. Upon applying, the school system was required to have the matching funds available.

Suffolk was one of 21 localities throughout the state chosen to receive the grants.

“These grants demonstrate Virginia’s commitment to providing safe schools where students can learn and teachers can teach,” Kaine said in a press release. “When students succeed, the entire community succeeds.”