Casper Council Looking to Add Two More Police Officers in Natrona Schools
On Tuesday, the Casper city council agreed to move forward with signing a contract with the Natrona County School District (NCSD) to add two more school resource officers (SRO) until 2027.
The memorandum of understanding would charge the NCSD an $84,375 cost per officer, and while the six SROs currently in schools would stay the same for the 2022 to 2023 school year, it would increase by two from 2023 until the contract expires in 2027.
While the council agreed to move forward with it at their work session, they will wait till the next regular council meeting in order to officially sign it.
For the current school year, officers will be stationed at Kelly Walsh High School, Natrona County High School, Casper Classical Academy Middle School, Centennial Junior High School, CY Middle School, and Dean Morgan Junior High School.
Police chief Keith McPheeters said that they've had some issues with keeping enough officers due to sickness and absence, but believe they'll be able to fill the role of the extra two officers.
"Right now, we are not in a position to staff it. We had originally intended to work with them on bringing in those two SROs online beginning in January of this year, but right now the staffing does not permit us to do that. We are down to many injured officers and people on extended leaves of absence for us to be able to accommodate the need. There's language in this contract that if we have some good applicants coming in on this next testing and if we capture lightning in a bottle we can bring those two new SROs online."
If there are officers available, the extra SROs may be added during the 2022 to 2023 school year, which if so the NCSD will reimburse the city proportional to the extra time that they will be there.
McPheeters said that when the new SROs are added, while they don't know exactly which schools they will be in, they will be in elementary schools, and that he doesn't know if that's related to the Ulvade shooting or not.
"The school district, their thought processes are unchanged. They are dedicated to the safety of their schools, the students, and their staff. The same as the Casper Police Department. We're all on the same team. We celebrate and are grateful for the working relationship we have with the school district. But I would believe that every time a tragic incident happens in a school anywhere in the nation, that is something that crosses the mind of both law enforcement and school district officials wherever they may reside, no matter how far away they are from such a tragedy. So I believe that the school district is doing everything within their power to ensure a safe learning environment for their students and staff."