Loudon schools chief seeks money for resource officers

Hugh G. Willett knoxnews.com

LOUDON The director of Loudon County schools told the County Commission budget committee Monday that he needs more money to provide school resource officers in three schools within the Loudon city limits.

Jason Vance told the committee that the city of Loudon is prepared to pull its officers from the schools unless the county can provide another $30,000 in funding for the two Loudon Police Department officers assigned to Loudon Elementary, Fort Loudoun Middle and Loudon High schools.

"I believe the city is pretty firm about this," Vance told committee members.

The school system currently provides about $30,000 per year to the city. The city made a request several weeks ago for $100,000 to fund the two SROs. After negotiations, Vance said the request was lowered to an annual total of about $60,000.

Without additional funds, the Loudon city officials say they will pull the resource officers from the schools in mid-August, he said.

Vance said he was looking at all options, including private security. He told commissioners his budget was already stretched too thin to fund any increases.

"We're tight. We've had to cut people," he said.

Other options include using deputies from the Loudon County Sheriff's Office, which provides officers for schools in the county.

Loudon Police Chief James "Bear" Webb said salary and benefits to keep two police officers in the city schools was about $75,000 for each officer, not including vehicles, uniforms and equipment.

"The actual cost is much more than the city is asking for," he said.

Asked about the cost, LCSO Assistant Chief Deputy Jimmy Davis said he did not have specific figures but noted each deputy would be paid about $37,000 each, not including benefits, vehicles and equipment.

Commissioner Dave Meers questioned Davis about the possible jurisdictional conflict of having County deputies working within Loudon City limits. Davis said the two organizations would have no trouble working together.