1% Tax Would Provide Resources for School Resource Officers | Big Horn Basin Media

1% Tax Would Provide Resources for School Resource Officers

Written by on October 30, 2020

One benefit of the proposed specific purpose sales tax will be preserving and improving the dynamic between Cody’s students and cops.

One of the many issues Park County will vote on in next Tuesday’s general election is the 1% general purpose sales and use excise tax. If implemented, it would add a tax equal to 1% of the cost of any sale.

Park and Sublette Counties are the only Wyoming counties that don’t already have this tax in place.

The Cody City Council voted in September that the revenues from the tax would only go towards essential needs and services. One of these services was the cost of having another school resource officer stationed at Cody Middle School.

There are currently two school resource officers in Park County School District #6 – one at the middle school, the other at Cody High School.

Cody Police Chief Chuck Baker explains that the duties of a school resource officer are:

  1. Law Enforcement
  2. Informal Counseling
  3. Education
  4. Emergency Management

There was previously only one school resource officer at the high school. Based on the number of calls for service and the increasing workload from all the district’s schools, both the district and Chief Baker decided another officer stationed at the middle school would be beneficial.

Baker explains that the goal of a school resource officer (SRO) is to forge a positive relationship with Cody’s students and the police. He opposes the nationwide trend of removing officers from schools, after increased scrutiny towards policing and violence.

“When you have school resource officers in the schools, it’s very highly visible, proactive, preventative, and relationship-based. They collaborate with faculty, staff, parents, and students. When you take the SROs out of the school, the relationship becomes enforcement based. We have no opportunity for proactive or preventative interaction with young kids. No relationship. Just enforcement based.”

Being an SRO requires additional training to learn how to be effective at working with students. They achieve these goals thru scheduled counseling, teaching classes on topics related to law enforcement, and topics like vaping – a problem prevalent in youth across the country.

Baker has taken steps to ensure that an SRO can be stationed at the middle school for a four-year period. The department applied for a grant in March to cover the salary of an SRO at Cody Middle School. The grant will cover the cost for three years of that time – the school district and the city would cover the remaining costs, around $40 thousand.

The city’s portion of that money would come from the 1% specific purpose sales tax – if it passes.

Chief Baker currently has one of Cody’s patrol officers working at the middle school. But this isn’t sustainable with the current funding available.

The passage of the 1% specific purpose sales tax would ensure this positive relationship can continue and grow amongst Cody’s cops and our kids.

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