By Shelby Stewart
Brandon Twp.- The board of education is discussing the role of the school resource officer in the district now that the district has four guards from Premier Security.
“We get about 20 hours a week for the school year, we spend about $55,000 a year on that position,” said superintendent Dr. Matt Outlaw. “And we have four armed guards, one in every building, they’re all retired police and I’m telling you, they’re awesome.”
The liaison officer position is split 50/50 with the township during the school year, and during the summer and school breaks the officer is in the township full time.
The total cost for the officer is a little less than $140,000 a year, of which the school pays around $55,000 to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.
The board also had questions over what obligations the officer would have in the school.
“Every eyes and ears of a deputy out in a community will report back to that deputy, which we won’t get out of the security in our school, so that’s a plus,” said board president Diane Salter. “But I also say I don’t want to pay that much either.”
“Four years ago we were having this discussion of having people there to respond if there was an issue in a building,” said Outlaw. “The truth is that is what Premier Security is doing. I guess what we would look for is the roles, is this investigations, is this heading things off before they become investigations?”
Other board members thought that the position should be looked at to clarify the role of the officer.
“There seems to be a difference in what we think we’re requesting and what we’re getting,” said board member Sarah Allen. “I want to make sure that we’re getting what we are paying for. I think in our eyes being in the building is part of the payment. I’d like to know what that definition is and if there is a job description that outlined exactly what we’re looking for.”
Other board members felt that an officer had a more profound impact on the students.
“I like the presence of a uniform,” said board member John Chartier. “It has a bigger presence to the kids than an armed guard.”
Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Brandon substation commander Lt. Greg Glover said the role of the security company is to monitor who is coming in and out of the school buildings.
“They (security guards) have no police or arrest powers,” he said. “They can’t write tickets and they really just monitor the school doors. Last year, we (OCSO) had more than 470 sperate contacts among the four school buildings. Seventy five of those contacts resulted in a law enforcement investigation. A security company cannot handle those types of contacts or an investigation for that matter. That’s the difference between the two entities.”
Glover did not diminish the role of the security guards.
“Premier Security are not the average security company,” he said. “Ninety percent are retired, trained police officers, that gives them a different perspective on suspicious activities. It’s a definite advantage for the school.”