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Police look to add second school resource officer to Jefferson City High School

The Jefferson City Police Department is working to add a second school resource officer, or SRO, to the Jefferson City High School.

The U.S. Department of Justice is giving up to $8 million in grants aimed to advance community policing.

The police department is applying for a grant in hopes to have a second commissioned officer in the high school by next school year.

“It certainly would increase the safety of the school,” Capt. Doug Shoemaker with JCPD said. “It would increase the safety of the existing officer, which we think is very important.”

Officer Paris Lewis is currently the only SRO at the high school with nearly 1,700 students. Her duties include building relationships with students, serving as a security officer, managing traffic flow, de-escalating situations and more.

“…deal with criminal issues that do happen sometimes and to maintain that presence, keeping drugs out of the school, keeping weapons out of the school–there’s really a myriad of duties they have to fulfill, so it’s a daunting job, and it’s a lot of work,” Shoemaker said.

If the grant is awarded, it would be a way for the department to add the needed position without draining much money from the city budget.

“Every year, it’s our job to evaluate what our personnel needs are and that involves money,” Shoemaker said. “If you ask for more people you have to ask for more money and that’s a difficult sell.”

According to Shoemaker, the student resource officers are key to dealing with youth crimes and youth initiatives in the community.

“It’s just much more efficient than an outside officer coming in and trying to understand the system because schools are different than police departments, so understanding that system and having that working relationship has really been invaluable,” Shoemaker said.

There are currently four other SROs stationed in the two middle schools, Simonsen Ninth Grade Center and Jefferson City Academic Center. There is also an officer that rotates between elementary schools.

The police department is still calculating the dollar amount of the grant it needs to apply for.

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