McCORDSVILLE — Schools throughout Hancock County are beginning to see the effects of a statewide grant designed to keep students and staff safe.
Bob Robinson became the first school resource officer to be hired locally with grant money from the two-year Secured School Safety program, which provides districts throughout the state with funds to hire police officers, enhance locking systems and more.
Robinson, a retired deputy from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, will serve at McCordsville and Mt. Comfort elementary schools. Officials in the county’s three other districts plan to spend their money soon on officers and other security measures.
“The only thing we want to do is keep the kids, the parents and the property safe,” Robinson said.
Robinson’s duties include welfare checks and truancy investigations. He’s no stranger to this type of work: While on the sheriff’s department, he monitored the high schools in Mt. Vernon, Eastern Hancock and New Palestine.
Retiring in 2006, Robinson became part owner of Strike Force Lanes in Greenfield. But these days, he directs school traffic in the morning, watches the hallways and remains alert for any unusual activity, from run-of-the-mill truancies to things more serious.
School districts in the state can hire officers or address other security needs with the help of a $20 million fund made available last year by the Indiana Legislature. The security fund was championed by Attorney General Greg Zoeller.
The program awards up to $35,000 to districts with fewer than 1,000 students and up to $50,000 for those with more than 1,000 students.
Greenfield-Central plans to use its grant money for a second officer to cover the district’s elementary, intermediate and junior high schools. The district already has one officer posted at the high school.
Christy Hilton, G-C assistant superintendent, said it’s just a matter of working out paperwork with the city of Greenfield to get a new officer in place yet this spring. In fact, the school will be hiring three Greenfield police officers to serve at the schools while they’re off duty.
The deal needs to be approved by the Greenfield Board of Works and the G-C school board; Clerk-Treasurer Larry Breese said G-C will pay the officers directly because they will be working while they are off the city clock.
“We’re very excited about the partnership and we’ve had good meetings so far, but obviously, we have to make sure it goes through boards and make sure everything is in place,” Hilton said.
Southern Hancock administrators plan to use security grant money to bump a part-time resource officer’s shift from a half day to a full day at New Palestine High School. They also will add a full-time resource officer at Doe Creek Middle School. Steve Satterly, SH safety director, said the corporation is still waiting to receive the grant funds because there was an error in the application.
“We’re hoping (to put the changes in place) by the end of this year. I would hope by the end of this month, but that’s all based on how the state comes up with the money,” Satterly said.
Eastern Hancock plans to use money on new classroom door locks and extra security cameras. For an upcoming second round of grant money, the school is applying for funds for storm and lightning detectors, blackout curtains and a GPS tracking system for all buses. EH is also requesting money for a school resource officer, but whether that will be approved is up to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.
At Mt. Vernon, the district has implemented special drills and other procedures to make sure the schools are as safe as possible. Electronic monitoring, emergency plans and other improvements are designed to make the campuses safer.
MV Superintendent Bill Riggs said the increased resources, drills and precautions are designed to make the campuses as safe as possible.
“Our goal was to try and reduce response time,” Riggs said.