Blackwell Public Schools will have resource officer starting this year

by Charles Gerian

For the first time in almost a decade, the halls of Blackwell Public Schools will be watched by an officer of the Blackwell Police Department thanks to House Bill 2903 which passed in May and aimed to station a School Resource Officer within every school in the state as an answer to increased worries nationwide about violence in schools.

The Blackwell City Council approved the arrangement earlier this month, and the Blackwell Board of Education approved it themselves at Monday night’s meeting.

Blackwell Chief of Police Jay Brewer spoke in his office last week, extremely satisfied with the arrangement.

“It allows the Blackwell Police Department to establish a presence within our schools,” Brewer spoke, “Officer Kyle Waters will be a visual deterrent to any trouble, and will help not only the department but the schools as well by being able to handle any incidents within the schools that would otherwise tie up our officers on their regular shift.”

Brewer explained that Blackwell P.D. spends a majority of their time during the school year dealing with matters at the schools.

“Sometimes our officers will be at a school for hours if there’s an issue, and this will allow us to have a continual presence readily available and free up the rest of our department to tend to safety matters outside of the school.”

Waters will be the officer for Blackwell Elementary, Blackwell Middle School, and Blackwell High School.

“There are a lot of matters people might not initially think of when they think of what a school resource officer might be attending to. Smoking, vaping, fights. Waters has been attending a special series of classes for this position, and he will be an invaluable asset in keping our kids and teachers safe,” said Brewer.

Waters was excited about the undertaking.

“I’m a family man- I have kids of my own, and I am honored to be a presence within the schools to keep kids safe, to tend to any matters that might arise, to be there for these kids. That’s what it’s all about.”

Waters has been with the Blackwell P.D. for just over 5 years.

Blackwell Public Schools Superintendent Shawn Haskins was grateful as well.

“It’s going to be a great addition to the school and community,” said Haskins.

“SRO’s are needed in the schools today. This also helps the city by not having to send an officer to the school to work a case, they can stay on city patrol. I’m very excited about the grant paying for the SRO and the thought that we have a dedicated city police officer working inside Blackwell Public Schools.”

House Bill 2903 created the School Resource Officer Program, a three-year pilot program to provide every district with a school resource officer or security upgrades. House Bill 2904 funds the program and directs approximately $96,000 to each Oklahoma public school district.

Under 2903, School Resource Officers (SROs) participating in the program must complete active shooter emergency response training provided by the Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET).

The bill also establishes a School Security Revolving Fund and allows the State Department of Education to distribute up to $50 million per year, totaling a $150 million investment over the three-year program.