FRUITLAND — At its regular meeting on Sept. 27, the Fruitland City Council and Fruitland Police Chief J.D. Huff reviewed the city’s School Resource Officer agreement with the Fruitland School District. A grant which had helped the department provide this officer has run its course, Huff said, which has him looking for further support from the district when the contract comes up for renewal next year.

“Now, we own the totality of the cost for the SRO,” said Huff. “Now we’re hoping maybe they [the district] can dig a little deeper; We’d like to keep somebody down there on a consistent basis, and [negotiate] something that would be a little more commiserate with the level of service that it will provide.”

For the current school year, Huff observed the district’s contribution is $20,000, a $5,000 increase over what it offered in 2020-21. That accounts for 25% of the officer’s overall salary.

“We were okay with that this year, moving into 2021-22 school year. We think that’s ok,” he said. “I think it might be something that we need to renegotiate next year, obviously. Maybe plan it a little bit sooner for them, because … this [grant] had already ended this year.”

Huff plans to meet with the school board for the next budget cycle, to allow the board to determine how much need it has for an officer on its campuses.

“Before [the current resource officer], I had my guys walking those schools every single day. I almost think we had better coverage of the schools without an SRO.”

However, Huff noted, the bulk of calls received from the schools these days are more easily handled by a single officer.

“I think there’s some value in that, and I think that this was a good contract this year for us with the caveat that next year we’ll re-evaluate it.”

Councilor Ed Pierson moved to approve the agreement for the 2021-22 school year as it stands, seconded by Councilor Tom Limbaugh. The roll call vote to approve was unanimous, 4-0.

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