Federal grant would put police in Lima schools

May 21, 2013

LIMA — The Lima Police Department is applying for a federal grant that would allow it to have a full-time police officer working for Lima schools next school year.

Lima City Council approved Monday the department applying for a Community Oriented Policing grant. It would fund 75 percent of an officer position, with the school district being responsible for the rest.

Lima Police has six officers paid for through the same grant. Four expire in July. Chief Kevin Martin said school resource officers are getting preference for funding this year.

“With the success we have had in the past and the fact that it does fill a need for this community and the fact that we are not asking for an officer for each school, I think our chances are probably fairly good,” Martin said.

The grant would be for three years. The department could get $125,3012 over the three years. The district would be responsible for $41,767 over three years.

Superintendent Jill Ackerman said one of three campus protection positions is open at the high school and it will not be filled. They are staff members who work in the halls and help enforce rules, Ackerman said.

The resource officer would be an armed officer with full police powers, Martin said. The grant would pay for a new officer, but Martin would put a seasoned officer in the schools. The officer has not been named yet.

While particulars have not been decided, Ackerman said, the officer likely would have a centralized location but be used throughout the district.

“In my mind, there would be a rotating schedule where they are in a building walking through, visiting with kids, talking to staff and called out as needed,” she said. “In most cases, having an officer is as much to protect the kids from what is on the outside than what is going on inside. I see it as more of a security prevention measure.”

Martin believes the police presence will help deter problems that sometimes happen among students and prevent situations from escalating. It could better the relationship between police and students, he said, and help them see policing as a more noble profession.

Martin credited the district for already working to keep schools safe, including limiting outside access to buildings and doing ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate) training with staff.

“They have done a lot already to try to make their schools safe and secure,” he said. “This will will just be another big step in that direction.”

Police and the school district long have had a good relationship, Ackerman said. Police often stop by the schools, and officials meet monthly.

“They have always had a presence with us,” she said. “There has always been good communications. We work really well together.”