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City OKs plan for school resource officer at Oregon High

December 1, 2018

OREGON – A new face appears likely to be headed for the halls of Oregon High School.

The City Council voted to enter into an intergovernmental agency agreement with the Oregon School District to share the costs of a school resource officer. The school board is expected to do the same at its Dec. 17 meeting.

Plans call for Oregon Police Sgt. Randy Cropp to be on duty full-time at Oregon High beginning Jan. 2. The City Council hired an officer Nov. 13 to replace Cropp.

The shooting at Dixon High School prompted the school board to take action to have an SRO in place as soon as possible, Superintendent Tom Mahoney has said.

DHS senior Matt Milby, armed with a semi-automatic rifle, fired shots at a teacher in the gym on May 16 during graduation practice. He took off running when confronted and pursued by the School Resource Officer Mark Dallas and was soon taken into custody.

The school district will pay 70 percent of the cost, and the city will pick up the remaining 30 percent.

The first year, it will cost just under $90,000 for Cropp’s salary and benefits and the necessary equipment. The city’s portion, around $28,000, will come from the General Fund.; the school’s share will come from the Tort Fund.

During the summer, when school is out, the SRO will work as a patrol officer for the city, and also will be available to fill in for other officers when they are on vacation, which will reduce reducing overtime costs, Mayor Ken Williams said.

The council also approved placing a referendum on the April ballot asking city taxpayers to pick up the city’s share of the cost after the initial start-up period.

“Whenever we have a new expense, we need a source of revenue to pay for it,” Williams said.

The referendum will ask for just over 2 cents per $100 equalized assessed valuation, which translates into $20.67 per year on a house valued at $100,000.

That will bring in an estimated $29,000 per year, he said.

If approved, the tax increase will appear on property tax bills in 2020.

The SRO will be on duty at the high school at first, and will spend time at the other school buildings as the plan unfolds, Mahoney said.

The council is working out the details on how to proceed if the referendum fails. If that happens and Oregon is unable to provide the SRO, the school district could look to another police agency, such as the Mount Morris Police Department or the Ogle County Sheriff’s Department, Mahoney said.

Statutes require that an SRO must be a full-time police officer.

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