City Commissioners gave Dothan Police the green light Tuesday. They will now apply for a Community Oriented Policing Services grant. It would put five more school resource officers on the police force for three years.
Chief Greg Benton from the Dothan Police Department, said, “With what's going on in the world today, you see a lot of violence in schools. That’s one of the things we are always concerned about as law enforcement officers in trying to help that situation out a little bit.”
Seventy-five percent of the grant comes from federal aid. The city would front the rest, rounding just more than 260 thousand dollars. People think the added armor is worth the money.
“It would be safe for our children because, we as parents, we don't want to worry about our children not being protected in schools. I think it would be a good investment for the City of Dothan,” suggested Martha Gordon, a Dothan resident.
Dothan currently has eight school resource officers. They are scattered among high schools and middle schools, which means none of the district's elementary schools have around the clock protection. Gordon says that concerns her.
“Our little children need protecting too. We know what happened to the school with the little children,” she expressed about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting tragedy.
However, Chief Benton says they are not ignored. Some SRO's allocate their time.
He explained, “What they do is split time between their magnet schools and some of the elementary schools.”
The application process is the next step. If the grant is approved, Benton says they will look at the different schools and see which ones need these officers the most.
Ideally, Dothan Police want to hire military veterans. Also, about $60,000 of the city’s portion will fund community service projects—like the Police Athletic League this summer at Wiregrass Park.