ST. JOHN | A school resource officer will be assigned to Lake Central High School at the start of the 2013 school year.
To fund the new position, the St. John Town Council on Thursday authorized acceptance of a federal COPS grant for $125,000 to pay the first 18 months of salary for the officer.
St. John, Dyer, Schererville and the Lake Central School Board will contribute additional funding for the position under an interlocal agreement. The St. John council on Thursday authorized attorney David Austgen to draft the agreement.
St. John Police Chief Fred Frego said the grant money is “not quite enough to fully support this officer,” which is why the interlocal agreement and financial support from the municipalities and school district is necessary.
St. John Town Council President Michael Forbes said letters of commitment have been received from officials in Dyer, Schererville and Lake Central High School. Schererville sent a $10,000 check to be used for the school resource officer's salary, he said.
Frego said he plans to hire a veteran officer for the position.
“A new hire will take that police officer’s place in the field," he said.
Lake Central School Corp. Superintendent Larry Veracco will be involved in the selection process, the chief said.
“Getting the right officer in this position is important,” Frego said. “We’ve had discussion and are looking at two or three officers.”
Among the school resource officer's duties will be mentoring and counseling of students and working with Lake Central High School’s staff “to make it a better, safer place,” he said.
“This has been a goal of mine since I arrived here,” Frego said. “In light of the tragic events that happened in (Newtown, Conn.), it reinforces the need for an accredited SRO.”
A gunman killed 20 children and six employees Dec. 14 at an elementary school in Newtown before turning the gun on himself.