Algonquin Village Board in favor of having officers at middle schools

Officials move forward with effort unanimously

Algonquin Deputy Police Chief Ryan Markham address the Village Board on Tuesday about the benefits of adding officers to middle schools.
Algonquin Deputy Police Chief Ryan Markham address the Village Board on Tuesday about the benefits of adding officers to middle schools.

The Algonquin Village Board supports putting police officers in Community School District 300 middle schools this upcoming school year.

The board unanimously voted Tuesday evening to move forward with an intergovernmental agreement to have an officer assigned to serve as a school liaison at Algonquin Middle School and Westfield Community School.

The goal is “to maintain a more personal relationship between law enforcement agents and students in the school; assist in educational programs; protect the students and the school from theft, vandalism and trespassing; and deal more effectively with juvenile offenses,” according to village documents.

The agreement still must be approved by the District 300 board, which could take up the matter this summer.

Area high schools already have police officers.

Chosen officers would have to attend a 40-hour basic school resource officer training class within six months of starting and be trained in gang resistance and cultural diversity, among other things.

Above all, they would counsel school staff on best practices for safety and assist in cases of emergency.

Such officers must “maintain a high level of visibility during school entrance and dismissal times, as well as during passing periods,” according to village documents.

At least once a year, the director of school safety, the principals of Algonquin Middle School and Westfield Community School and a designated representative of the Algonquin Police Department must meet to discuss and evaluate the program.

“It’s a terrific idea,” said Deputy Chief Ryan Markham, who added that he served as a school resource officer at Jacobs High School for three years. “I really saw how useful they are. It’s not just the security aspect of it. It’s about interacting with kids and building upon that relationship that we establish with the D.A.R.E [Drug Abuse Resistance Education] program in elementary and middle schools.”

District 300 would reimburse the village for 66 percent of the cost of each officer, according to village documents. Because the agreement still is being ironed out, it’s not clear what the costs would be.

“They’re still working out the details,” said Trustee Jerry Glogowski, adding that more experienced officers would cost more. “It all depends on who we pick.”

The Village Board will vote on a final agreement after the District 300 board adds to it.

“They’re both going over drafts,” Markham said. “They’re hashing out the intergovernmental agreement.”

As it stands now, the agreement would go into effect the day teachers return from summer recess and end on the last day of student attendance during the 2018-19 school year. The agreement automatically would be renewed if it is successful, according to village documents.

The move comes amid a national debate regarding school safety.

In February, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was the site of one of the nation’s deadliest school shootings. Seventeen people were fatally shot, and seventeen others were wounded.

Last month, 10 people were killed and 13 were injured during a school shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas.

Closer to home, a school resource officer thwarted a school shooting suspect May 16 at Dixon High School.

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