New contract seeks to add second school resource officer for Dalton elementary schools

Matt Hamilton/Daily Citizen-News

The Dalton Police Department's David Saylors, left, and Jamie Johnson prepare to enter Dalton High School in this file photo. Dalton Public Schools and the Dalton Police Department have agreed to a contract that seeks to add another school resource officer for the school system. Jamie Johnson is now a member of the Whitfield County Board of Education.

DALTON, Ga. — Dalton Public Schools and the Dalton Police Department have agreed to a contract that seeks to add another school resource officer (SRO) for the school system, possibly as soon as the next school year that starts in August.

The Board of Education unanimously approved a $387,000 SRO contract on Monday. The contract seeks to increase the number of SROs assigned to Dalton Public Schools to six from five. The contract must still be approved by the City Council.

"Currently, we have two (SROs) assigned to Dalton High School, one at Morris Innovative (High School), one at Dalton Middle and one serving the six elementary schools," said school Chief Financial Officer Theresa Perry. "Next year, we will have two SROs serving the elementary schools once the police department is able to fill the position."

Assistant Police Chief Chris Crossen said the added SRO could start as soon as August.

"If we have a position we can dedicate to that, we would like to do that," Crossen said.

But Crossen said if the department has to add a position for the SRO it may have to wait until its budget is approved by the City Council in December.

"The school system's fiscal year and our fiscal year are different," Crossen said.

The school system's fiscal year starts on July 1. The city's fiscal year starts on Jan. 1.

"They took this before (the school board) now," Crossen said. "But if we have to add a position, we won't know if we will be able to do that until our budget is approved. This is a first step. This is an ask. This contract asks us to add a person."

The new SRO would split responsibility for the elementary schools with one of the existing SROs. School officials said they didn't want to say too much more about how the two SROs would share those duties.

"The officers will have a rotation," said Superintendent Tim Scott. "But for safety purposes, we don't want to say when they will be at certain schools and when they won't. And that rotation will change so that it doesn't get predictable. But they will have a rotation, and of course, they will be on call and able to respond when needed."

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