RINCON — Chief Jonathan Murrell of the Rincon Police Department is working to extend his agency’s protective reach.
Murrell and Effingham County Board of Education officials are devising a plan to install resource officers at Rincon Elementary School and the Rincon Learning Center. The chief met with Superintendent Dr. Yancy Ford and Ben Johnson of District 4 a few hours before a June 27 Rincon City Council meeting.
“They are in favor of having a signed agreement prior to the end of July,” Murrell told the council. “There are two positions they are willing to support, ready to support.”
The Effingham County Board of Education has proposed paying 75 percent of each officer’s salary. The remainder would be paid by the Rincon City Council.
Both officers would be City of Rincon employees.
“If we want to bill them monthly, if we want to bill them yearly or every six months — however we decide to do it — they are fine with it,” Murrell said. “They are really ready to move forward.”
The council is ready to get a deal done, too. Mayor Pro Tem Reese Browher, presiding in the absence of Mayor Ken Lee, said he liked the idea of Rincon have Effingham County’s first elementary school was a resource officer.
Located at 1703 Fort Howard Road, Rincon Elementary School has about 1,000 students and room for about 200 more. A middle school is set to be constructed behind it in the next four years.
“When Rincon Middle School is built, I will be asking for a third position for that school so that we will have (a resource officer) at each each campus full time,” Murrell said.
The Rincon Learning Center at 116 E. 5th St houses older students in Crossroads Academy, an alternative school, and enCompass, which provides special education support.
Murrell said at least one of his current officers is considering making the move from patrol to a school.
“I may have two,” he said. “Both of them, I believe, are great fits for that position. It takes a special person to do that.”
Using the same 75/25 percent salary split under the Rincon proposal, the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office puts resource officers in the county’s current middle and high schools, It has struggled to fill three recent vacancies, however.
On Thursday, Ford discussed Rincon’s plan with the Herald.
“We originally talked about Crossroads Accadmy but last week (Murrell) approached me after going to the council about possible going into the elementary school as well,” Ford said. “We are in favor of that. We are in favor of putting a resource officer in every school if we can.”
Ford said the district is set to roll out new safety systems, including one by Centgix, before he 2022-23 school year starts starts Aug. 4. Centegix makes a badge that allows equipped school employees to call for help with the push of a button.
The alerts can be in-house or sent to E-911.
“It’s almost like an insurance policy,” Ford said. “I hope we never use it. I hope we never have to put it in motion because of an intruder but those things allow us to be more prepared.”
Ford said time is of the essence during intrusions.
“If doors are locked and children are protected, he or she is not going to stand there and try to get in,” he said. “They are checking for open doors to get to people.”