At the December meeting of the Monroe County Community School Corporation’s Board of School Trustees, Jim Witmer was approved as the inaugural School Resources Officer for the district. John Carter, director of planning for MCCSC, told us more on what he will do as school resources officer.
“He’ll be providing resources to staff on mediation training and foster relationships with parents and students and teachers,” Carter says.”The benefits of this are if you have someone in your building that the kids are comfortable telling things to, that’s what you want. For example, threats of violence to other students, sometimes the students know those. We want the students to have every avenue possible to tell us. They could tell a teacher, a counselor, a principal, or even a bus driver. Now we have a school resources officer who is versed in law enforcement and can help.”
A portion of Witmer’s salary will come from a grant from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, a program added to the Indiana code by the 2013 General Assembly. The code states that a school resource officer may make arrests, conduct search or seizure of property, and carry a firearm on school property. Carter talks about other requirements of the position.
“The state statute has said that the qualifications are important for a school resources officer,” Carter says, “The law enforcement training is the most important. You have to keep up your certifications and go to school resource officer training school. They need to know the difference from being law enforcement and law enforcement in a school setting.”
The matching homeland security grant is on a two-year cycle. Carter says he expects that the school corporation will try to renew it, but that there are no policies in place to measure the effectiveness of the position.
“We hope to keep the school resources officer,” Carter says, “We want to be able to say we feel safer with this extra resource of information to provide to students, parents and staff. That’s probably the biggest benefit.”
Jim Witmer is a 23 year veteran of the Bloomington Police Department and began a campaign for Monroe county sheriff this year.
His campaign website has the following announcement, in relation to his new position: “I am sad to say that in choosing to accept this position, I will need to withdraw from the Monroe County Sheriff’s race. Although I wasn’t able to complete that mission, I feel that nothing is more valuable than our children, and I promise that I will do everything in my power to provide a safe environment for our children to learn and grow.”