Cheney Free Press -

By JOHN McCALLUM
Managing Editor 

Cheney council OKs SRO contract

Three-year agreement furnishes school district with officer dedicated mostly to the high school

 

Last updated 10/4/2018 at 3:55pm



Cheney’s City Council gave its approval at its Sept. 25 meeting to renewing a contract with Cheney Public Schools to supply a school resource officer to the district.

Unlike previous contracts where the officer floated between the district’s eight school buildings, the new agreement stations retired Officer Dane Gilman mostly at the high school. Former SRO and Cheney Police Office Kelly Hembach retired in December 2017, and was then hired by the school district as its new director of public safety, with most of his responsibilities centered on the other seven schools.

The contract specifies that the SRO is a employee of the city, not the school district, and under the Police Department’s command. Police Chief John Hensley told the council the need for an officer at the high school arose because the volume of incidents throughout the district had put the former SRO at capacity with his ability to handle the calls.

The SRO contract provides an officer for the 180-day calendar school year, with summers off. Hensley said the department will be looking at using Officer Gilman for other duties during that time, such as court transportation.

“That would be outside the contract,” Hensley added.

The agreement is for three years, with the district paying the city $69,337. The agreement may be extended after that in one-year increments at the mutual consent of both parties.

The city will provide the officer’s vehicle, while the district pays for fuel and maintenance. Should the vehicle need to be disposed of, the school district will decommission the vehicle and all proceeds of any sale returned to Cheney Public Schools.

The Police Department would retain ownership of the emergency equipment, which would be returned to the city.

Councilman Paul Schmidt questioned Hensley about how disciplinary actions are handled at the schools. Hensley said protocol requires the district to take care of incidents such as disruptive students and truancy, while the department would handle more serious reports such as assaults and drug possession.

Schmidt also asked if the amount the district pays covers the city’s costs in full, and what would happen should it decide not to extend the agreement in three years time.

“Yes, it covers it in whole,” Hensley said of the amount. “If the city decides it no longer wants to be in the SRO business, this position goes away.”

In a related resolution, the council agreed to authorize Mayor Chris Grover to release the title of the SRO’s 2014 Ford Explorer Police Interceptor from the city to the school district. The original purchase agreement specified the city would do so once it had been fully reimbursed by the district for the cost of the vehicle — which has now happened.

In other council news, Cheney resident Pat Rast presented a petition to the council from citizens in his neighborhood around the 1500 block of Fifth Street. Rast said the petition addressed neighbors concerns about the mixing of vehicle traffic and pedestrians due to the lack of sidewalks along Fifth Street in the area, especially students walking to and from school.

Rast said the neighborhood felt it had a “relatively inexpensive solution” to more sidewalks by installing stop signs along Fifth, which he felt would move traffic to Sixth Street.

Mayor Grover thanked Rast and his neighbors for presenting the petition along with an option for a resolution, adding the city and the Public Works Department would take a look at the issue.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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