Twin Lakes, Randall School, Lakewood School exploring resource officer

The Twin Lakes Police Department, Randall School and Lakewood School are exploring the possibility of placing a resource officer in the schools.

TLPD Chief Adam Grosz explained at the Village Board committee of the whole meeting Monday that he has been discussing the idea with the schools for a while and has now located a federal grant program that if awarded could pay for 75 percent of the cost of the police officer. He wanted to see if the board was in favor of his pursuing the grant before beginning the application process.

Grosz said a resource officer would be a full-time police officer who would work daily in Randall and Lakewood schools during the school year. That officer would engage in safety education and activities, provide leadership and build relationships between the TLPD and children in the community.

“There’s just a lot of things an office can do to get involved with the youth in this community,” Grosz said. “It just creates a really solid partnership.”

Another role for the officer would be to handle severe behavior problems that might be beyond what teachers can effectively deal with, though Grosz sees that as an infrequent duty.

“I don’t want to paint the picture that our schools are out of control and they can’t handle their kids,” Grosz said.

Wilmot Union High School and Central High School have sheriff’s deputies assigned as full time resource officers

Administrators at Lakewood and Randall schools are open to pursuing the resource officer if the grant comes through.

Said Christine Anderson, Twin Lakes #4 School District administrator, said:

The SRO position for us would represent a partnership in our community. Currently, we have had preliminary conversations, a presentation to our Board, and working on bringing back more specifics of the proposed position. To name a few benefits, the partnership would be increased safety and security, building positive relationships between our youth and law enforcement not only in the school but also in our community when school is not in session, safety training for students, families, and staff, and an active participant in crisis planning and management.”

Jeffrey Alstadt, Randall Consolidated School Joint District No. 1 administrator, said the district has been considering the idea since before he came to the district in summer of 2019. The Randall School Board has not yet met with Grosz, but plans to. Alstadt can see advantages to a school resource officer, but the district is also considering whether it needs to pursue mental health and social supports, though the TLPD receiving the grant could make that program able to be implemented sooner.

“They’re visible, they’re engaging,” Alstadt said of resource officers in schools.

Alstadt also said a shared resource officer would fit into the goal of Randall and Lakewood schools to collaborate when possible.

“This seems like one of the things we can work together on,” Alstadt said.

The Village Board gave Grosz direction to pursue the grant. If received, the grant would trigger the hiring of one new officer, Grosz said. One resource officer would split time between Randall and Lakewood.

Some board members did express concern about funding the school resource officer after the three years in which the village would receive grant funding. Under the grant, the village would receive 75 percent funding and the village and the two grade schools would supply the remaining 25 percent.

As for the summer, when the resource officer is not working in the schools, Trustee Kevin Fitzgerald said it would be good if the officer could work water patrol on Lakes Mary and Elizabeth.

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