School districts receive funding to hire school resource officers

Swan Valley Superintendant Matthew McRae talks about the new grants for school resource officers.
Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 9:19 AM EST
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MICHIGAN (WNEM) - School districts across the state will receive funding to hire school resource officers to help keep students safe.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced nearly $25 million to hire 195 school resource officers at school districts across the state for the next three years.

“It’s exciting for the future of our schools and the safety of our staff and students,” said Matt McRae, the superintendent of the Swan Valley school district.

The program will improve safety and security for more than 334,000 students in the state.

“Every parent wants their kids to be safe at school,” Whitmer said. “These grants will help us hire almost 200 more school resource officers so we can make sure our children, teacher, and staff are safe at school. Let’s keep working together to make record investments in our students and improve their classroom experience, build up school infrastructure, hire excellent educators, and invest in their comprehensive well-being, from mental health to safety.”

Only districts that didn’t already have a school resource officer were eligible to apply for the grant. The officer will be responsible for patrolling and monitoring school campuses in partnership with local police stations.

“School safety is number one. Obviously, we’re here to educate students but we can’t do that if we’re not sure they’re safe first. The offering of the grant, that would help districts ensure that school safety is paramount,” McRae said.

The funds may be used to support salaries, benefits, and training for school resource officers. A 50 percent match is required to be provided by the applicant jurisdiction, the state said.

“Our schools are pretty much non-accessible to anyone from the public. So, we like to think we’re in pretty good shape already but obviously, we’ve learned from a lot of the situations that happened recently that no one’s immune to acts of violence in our schools,” McRae said.

In the wake of multiple school shootings and bomb threats, McRae said it is imperative to have more safety measures in place. He said it is the school’s hope to not only prevent external violence but internal as well.

“The school resource officers is all about, we hope, connecting with kids and helping our staff identify those kids who may be struggling. A lot of the threats we experience are internal as well,” McRae said.

According to Michigan State Police Director Col. Jow Gasper, the grants will not only improve safety by increasing the number of schools with at least one school resource officer, but by also prioritizing small schools and reducing the amount of time it will take for police to respond in case of an emergency.

You can view a list of the schools receiving the grants here.