By Rob Cox Daily News
Greensburg Daily News
---- — GREENSBURG — On Friday, the state of Indiana announced that the Decatur County School Corporation (DCCS) and Greensburg Community Schools have been awarded a grant of $50,000 apiece as part of the state’s School Safety Initiative Awards, which are funded by State Senate Bill 1.
According to a press release, the amount represents the maximum grant amount conferred through the School Safety Initiative.
Decatur County Emergency Management Agency Director Rob Duckworth spoke briefly Monday afternoon to the Daily News about the awards.
According to the director, while both school corporations will use the grants to enhance school safety, each will put the money to use in different ways.
To this point, Duckworth explained, DCCS has never employed a school resource officer from local law enforcement, while GCS has used retired Greensburg Police Veteran Bruce Copple for several years.
DCCS, Duckworth said, will use the grant to help fund its first school resource officer.
GCS, on the other hand will use the money to purchase safety-related equipment to make Copple’s job more efficient and productive and to enhance school safety in general. GCS Superintendent Tom Hunter announced that the grant will be used to “enhance existing camera and door security.”
Duckworth also noted that only 50 percent of the DCCS grant will fund the salary for the new resource officer, while the remaining money will be used to help facilitate and enhance emergency action plans and general school security.
According to DCCS Superintendent Johnny Budd, the remaining fund will be used to “enhance early warning for first responders,” and to improve door locks and communication between staff, administrators and law enforcement.
“We’re not sure, yet,” Duckworth added, “if the new resource officer will come from within a local law-enforcement agency or be hired from outside, but the first priority is to get a uniformed personnel in place and have that person help facilitate the corporation’s understanding what role law enforcement can play in school-related incidents.”
According to Duckworth there are significant advantages to using a law-enforcement liaison. For one, he said, such personnel can help schools handle disciplinary incidents internally that might otherwise involve external law enforcement. In other words, incidents that might otherwise have serious, severe consequences that are disproportionate to the offender’s young age and non-existent criminal background, can be handled as a “teaching moment,” with less severe consequences.
School resource officers are a great tool for early intervention, Duckworth explained. They can help teach kids regarding the consequences of their actions in the adult world and thereby give them a second chance to learn from their mistakes.
Beyond that, these officers, the director added, are invaluable for emergency planning and for creating blue prints schools can follow when responding to a crisis. From a battery to a full-scale evacuation, emergency planning is crucial in helping schools respond quickly and efficiency.
Duckworth also noted that the grant process for the School Safety Initiative Awards was highly competitive, and that receiving an award – or even a complete award – was far from guaranteed.
“We’re very fortunate to receive the full amount,” he said. “The Indiana Department of Homeland Security reviewed each application and their requirements were fairly stringent.”
Duckworth, Hunter and Budd all credited the success of the grant applications to the School Safety Committee created in partnership to help the two school corporations to work jointly on security, creating uniform plans throughout the county for emergency first responders. Incidentally, the two awards will benefit both systems, as each coordinates and plans with the other, using resources in such ways that security improvement to one corporation enhance the security of the other.
According to the press release, implementation of the projects begins in early 2014.
Contact: Rob Cox 812-663-3111 x7011