By Donna Thornton/News Editor
Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin spoke to the Etowah County Commission during a work session recently about the opportunity to apply for a grant that could pay for 75 percent of salaries for additional school resource officers.
Etowah County Commissioner Jeff Overstreet said after more discussion during a May 14 work session, he believes the commission will give the OK to seek the grant.
The federal government’s Community Oriented Policing Hiring Program is accepting application through May 22. If the county were able to obtain the grant, it would pay 75 percent of the salaries for new SROs for three years. The county would have to pay 25 percent of the salary for additional officers. Entrekin said the grant would give the county three years to look for a way to fund the salaries for officers after the grant funding ends.
Currently, there are six SROs for county schools, and some municipalities that provide SROs for the schools in their jurisdictions.
Overstreet said the county will have time to look for a source to fund the remaining 25 percent of the SRO salaries, and if they can not come up with the funding, they can always turn down the grant if it is awarded.
Entrekin said 11 more SROs are needed to have each school staffed.
“It’s kind of hard for me as sheriff not to put officers in schools when there are officers in some schools,” Entrekin said. “Each kid is as important as the others, in any school.”
There was a lot of discussion about school safety earlier in the year, but there are only a few days left in the legislative session, the sheriff said, and so far, nothing has been done to provide funding on a state level for SROs in all schools.
Entrekin said he believed the money can be found to fund officers after the grant runs out, if he, the commission and the county’s legislative delegation can sit down and discuss the matter. The first step, he said, is applying for the grant by May 22.