DeKALB – Jeromy Olson asked District 428’s superintendent on Tuesday if the district’s third school resource officer could be a woman or person of color, instead of a white man, as the other two officers are currently.
Olson’s inquiry came after Craven presented his proposal to add a third officer to the district to better serve the district’s 11 buildings. Craven said he’s met with DeKalb City Manager Bill Nicklas and former DeKalb Police Chief Gene Lowery to address school safety and security. The D-428 board did not vote on the item, but will do so at the June 18 meeting. Adding a third school resource officer would cost the district $124,360, the agenda shows.
Olson asked Craven to speak with interim DeKalb Police Chief John Petragallo on the matter, to diversify the resource officers in the district.
“Is there any opportunity to, since we have two Caucasian male SROs, to get the third individual to be a female or minority, or both?” Olson asked.
Craven did not cite any particular instance that spurred the desire to add a third officer to the district, but said he wants to be proactive for the safety of the schools.
“It’s not in response to any specific incident,” Craven said in an interview before the meeting. “Across the nation, we’re seeing more school violence.”
Board President Samantha McDavid asked if any teachers or administrators were involved in ongoing discussions about school safety, and Craven said there were.
The district currently has two officers: one for DeKalb High School, Officer Aaron Lockhart; and one that floats between Huntley Middle School and Clinton Rosette Middle School, Officer Chris Sullivan. Craven said the third would be able to assist at the elementary schools and be on hand as necessary.
“What we’ve started is we’ve run into times where Officer Sullivan was getting pulled to the high school to assist,” Craven said. “And it happened more frequently in the winter through the spring, where it was very common that we were calling for Officer Sullivan and Lockhart and they were both occupied.”
In those instances, Craven said the district would call DeKalb Police, which would send a patrol officer to aid in an incident if needed.
“We had great response and cooperation,” Craven said. “However, [DeKalb patrol officers] don’t have connections with our kids, with our teachers. Our SROs have different training than one of the patrol officers. So there’s plenty of opportunity to expand what the three of them will do together, and I think we will benefit from it.”