The Vinton Police Department is pleased to announce that Senior Police Officer Josh West has been assigned as the department’s first School Resource Officer (SRO). In this role, Officer West will act as a liaison between the Vinton Police Department and the Vinton-Shellsburg Community School District.
Officer West is a 7-year veteran of the Vinton Police Department and 2001 graduate of Vinton Shellsburg High School. He is currently a sexual assault investigator, field training officer, child safety seat technician, and standardized field sobriety testing instructor. He recently attended a 40-hour basic SRO training course in Des Moines along with two building administrators from the Vinton-Shellsburg Community School District. Officer West will officially begin full-time SRO duties as soon as his replacement, Officer Katelyn Schimerowski, completes her field training.
The SRO will immediately begin working to build relationships with students, staff and parents.
The School Resource Officer fills three primary roles;
1) Educator: The SRO advises students, parents, and faculty on law enforcement related issues and presents programs on a variety of law enforcement and emergency response related topics that may include; drug abuse, emergency response procedures, crime prevention, and firearm safety.
2) Mentor/counselor: The SRO is a positive role model for students and works to identify and prevent delinquent behaviors through informal counseling and referral. The SRO’s daily interactions with students, parents, and faculty help to develop positive relationships and provide for a safer environment for all.
3) Law Enforcement Officer: The SRO investigates criminal complaints and enforces state laws and city ordinances. The SRO also helps to provide a safe environment through collaborative and preventative security planning with district officials resulting in an improved emergency response when needed.
The SRO program comes to fruition after several years of informal conversations which led to two years of intensive study and meetings between City and School officials. Vinton Police Captain Eric Dickinson and Shellsburg Elementary Principal Ryan Davis travelled to Maquoketa and Dewitt to meet with local police and school districts regarding their SRO programs. Maquoketa and Dewitt were specifically chosen for site visits due to the fact they each have similar sized police departments, communities, and school districts compared to Vinton. Each of their SRO programs have been active for more than a decade and have been very successful.
The Vinton Police Department applied for funding from the U.S. Department of Justice COPS Office. In mid-November 2017, the Vinton Police Department was notified by the Department of Justice that they would be awarded a grant for $125,000.00. The grant covers approximately half of the cost of an additional officer for three years in order to assign an officer to full-time duties as a School Resource Officer. The City and School District will split the remaining cost of the extra officer. The SRO position is required to be continued for at least one additional year after the grant funding ends. At that time, the City and District will re-evaluate the program and determine its future.