Hillsdale schools, police eyeing grant for school resource officer

HILLSDALE — The Hillsdale City Police Department and Hillsdale Community Schools have been doing the preliminary legwork and having the necessary conversations to meet one of the Hillsdale City Council’s top goals for 2022: hiring a school resource officer.

The conversation started in December 2021 when a series of vague threats swept through school districts in Hillsdale County prompting an increased police presence at public schools to this day.

More:Rash of school threats prompts increased law enforcement presence at schools

Mayor Adam Stockford named adding a school resource officer to the council’s goals earlier this year and now a grant opportunity through the state of Michigan could likely see that goal come to fruition.

In the wake of the Oxford School Shooting, the state of Michigan is offering a grant to fund 50-percent of an officers wages and benefits for three years.

The Hillsdale City Council passed a resolution supporting the grant application which is being filed by Hillsdale Community Schools Superintendent Shawn Vondra and is due Nov. 17.

Vondra was not immediately available for comment Monday.

More:City police to purchase additional active shooter response equipment

Hillsdale City Police Chief Scott Hephner said he believed the grant would be “a good door opener for the community” and that he has met with Vondra and City Manager David Mackie towards meeting the council’s goal.

Hephner added the school should hear back by January 2023 if their grant application was approved, and, if it is, then the city would look to hire an additional full time police officer who must then go through the field training officer protocols before assuming their position with the school.

More:Local officials discuss whether Hillsdale County is prepared for an active-shooter incident

Mackie said Hillsdale Community Schools has offered to split the 50-percent city match of the officers wages and benefits, equating to about $25,000 a year assuming a full-time police officer’s wages and benefits equate to $100,000 a year.

Hephner said that when school is not in session, the officer will still work regular patrol duties in the city.

“I think we’re all pretty excited to get this in motion,” Mackie said.

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Hillsdale Community Schools is one of 10 school district’s in the county. The Hillsdale County Sheriff’s Office has jurisdiction over several of the schools and Sheriff Scott Hodshire and his team have frequently visited schools throughout the day while on patrol assignments, walking the halls and speaking with students and faculty over their safety and security concerns.

The Jonesville Community Schools have recently undergone a security vulnerabilities assessment and has received numerous recommendations from that assessment that they will be working to address in the near future.

— Corey Murray is a staff writer for The Hillsdale Daily News who can be reached at cmurray@hillsdale.net. Follow him on Twitter: @cmurrayHDN.

This article originally appeared on Hillsdale Daily News: Hillsdale schools, police eyeing grant for school resource officer