No need for change, Indian River School District passes on Dagsboro’s SRO pitch

 

DAGSBORO – Indian River School District has passed on the town of Dagsboro’s proposal to provide school resource officer service to two schools in the immediate Dagsboro area.

The town billed its pitch to provide a school resource officer for Indian River High School and John M. Clayton Elementary School as a cost-savings proposal, substantially less than the district currently incurs through Delaware State Police.

Dagsboro Police Chief Floyd Toomey shares information on the town’s school resource officer offer to the Indian River School District at the July 17 town council meeting.

“My estimation is that with what we could charge for the same service it would be a savings of $33,000,” said Dagsboro Police Chief Floyd Toomey at the July 17 Dagsboro town council meeting.

However, Indian River School District Superintendent Mark Steele explained the reason the board and district passed on the town’s offer is because the SRO – Delaware State Police Cpl. Jeff Hudson – provides school resource officer service to four schools, not just two.

In addition to Indian River High School and John M. Clayton Elementary, Cpl. Hudson serves as SRO at Millsboro Middle School and Lord Baltimore Elementary in Ocean View, Mr. Steele explained.

“He covers all four,” said Mr. Steele. “So, we’re going to stay with what we’ve got. We don’t have any issues. There’s no need for us to change.”

“Basically, we said ‘Thank you,’ but we weren’t able to do it,’” said IRSD board of education president Charles Bireley. “There are a couple of reasons why.”

Also factoring in the district’s decision: Dagsboro’s police department does not have round-the-clock coverage. “Yes, it does (factor),” said Mr. Steele, “because they are supposed to have 24-hour service.”

Chief Toomey made his presentation to the school board and district administration during executive session at the June 19 board of education meeting.

“We approached them,” said Chief Toomey. “It’s the first time. It has been discussed previously, but this is the first pro-active step that we took.”

Town council members, perhaps unaware that the SRO covering Indian River High school and Clayton Elementary also covers two more schools, expressed disappointment in the board and district’s decision.

“I guess they are so flushed with money; they don’t need to worry about that,” said Dagsboro councilman William Chandler, a former judge and Chancellor on the Delaware Court of Chancery. “You made a request and an application. They considered it in executive session. Why did they consider it in executive session?”

“That was not my decision, sir,” said Chief Toomey.

“It’s their decision,” said Mr. Chandler.

“I was a little concerned about the executive session myself. I didn’t understand that,” Chief Toomey said.

Effective July 1, a veteran officer with Dagsboro’s current benefit package and pay structure will earn in excess of $53,000, Chief Toomey said. With the officer serving the schools three quarters of the year, the final contract signed would be for $39,750. That would save the district approximately half of the current service expense:  $33,250, according to Chief Toomey.

The proposed SRO in Dagsboro’s offer: Patrolman FC Tyler Bare. Chief Toomey said patrolman Bare completed the Basic School Resource Force on June 23, a National Association of School Resource Officers certified course.

Patrolman Bare was also sworn in through the Attorney General’s Office and has statewide jurisdiction to investigate Delaware law throughout the state. He also attended Crisis Management June 27, Chief Toomey said.

In his June 19 presentation, Chief Toomey noted that all officers in Dagsboro’s department are Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training. “We were the first department in the state of Delaware to complete that certification for the entire department,” the chief said.

“I know the person they want to put there,” said Mr. Bireley. “I know his father. I know his family. I know the police chief. No problems with any of that. It all has to do with the coverage.”

Dagsboro Police Department is no stranger to Indian River High School or John Clayton Elementary.

Chief Toomey’s background research found that from Jan. 1, 2014 through April 30, 2017, 40 months, there were a total of 244 complaints that occurred on the Indian River High School property.

Of those 244 complaints, 19 were duplicates. “In other words, there were multiple arrests,” Chief Toomey said.

There were 13 assist-other-agencies complaints, leaving a remainder of 212 complaints over that 40-month period. There was a total of five agencies that responded to these complaints: Ocean View responded to one, Selbyville two, Frankford police five, Dagsboro police responded to 94 of those complaints and Delaware State Police responded to 142, Chief Toomey said.

Of nine collisions that occurred on school property, Dagsboro investigated eight of them, according to Chief Toomey.

“Approximately two thirds of the complaints we were present for, including every major incident. All the bomb threats, we were there,” said Chief Toomey. “All the incidents that have been reported involving weapons in the school, we were there for those. We were there for every major incident.”

“At this point, the ball is your court,” Chief Toomey told council.

Council opted to have Mr. Chandler draft a letter to be signed by Mayor Brian Baull and council in response and forward it to the school board/district.

“I believe that I presented empirical evidence to them and they ignored it,” said Chief Toomey. “We are already providing the service. Obviously, we are. We were there for 94 of 214 complaints.”

“We’ll have try again sometime,” said Dagsboro Vice Mayor Norwood Truitt. “This is kind of almost insulting.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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