LORAIN — Lorain Schools has been without a school resource officer since the end of January.
School Resource Officer David Kusznir was injured roughly the third week of January, Lorain police Capt. Roger Watkins said, removing him from active duty with the police department and school.
“We’re going to be in talks with the schools, I imagine we’re going to be starting those up here pretty soon, but I didn’t have another (officer) to put over there,” Watkins said.
A school resource officer is a Lorain police officer contracted to the school district. His or her salary is paid in part by the school district, for which the officer provides extra security and can act as a liaison between the district and the police department during critical incidents. The officer also is armed while patrolling the schools.
At Tuesday’s Academic Distress Commission meeting, Chief Operations Officer Jeff Hawks said Kusznir, who was injured while off-duty, had been out for about a month.
“We work very closely with the police department, and they have responded (to) anything that we need them throughout the district; so at this time we’re working cooperatively because of the shortage (in the Lorain Police Department),” Hawks said.
There is still technically a commissioned officer in the district, as its head of security is a former Lorain police officer. Reuben Figueroa is the head of the school safety officers and safety compliance officers. Figueroa explained safety officers do some of the same things resource officers do, with the resource officers handling larger problems like felonies or drug-related incidents.
Safety officers are similar to security guards within the buildings they are assigned to, he said, while compliance officers handle truancy issues and some in-depth investigations for the district. Safety and compliance officers are not armed.
According to information from the district, there are 20 safety officers including a sub and eight compliance officers.
Of those, 12 safety officers are at the high school, two at General Johnnie Wilson Middle School, two at Longfellow Middle School, two at Southview Middle School and one at New Beginnings/Success Academy. There is one substitute safety officer.
Each compliance officer covers specific schools and/or grades, with their assignments as follows:
- 11th and 12th grades and Toni Morrison Elementary School;
- Longfellow Middle School and Larkmoor, Admiral King and Hawthorne elementary schools;
- General Jonnie Wilson Middle School and Washington, Garfield and Frank Jacinto elementary schools;
- ninth and 10th grades at the high school;
- Southview Middle School and Palm, Stevan Dohanos and Helen Steiner Rice elementary schools.
- Success Academy;
- a sergeant for the west side elementary schools; and
- a sergeant for the south and east side elementary schools.
Watkins said the lack of a resource officer in the district has not created a major security deficit. He said the police department has stepped up patrols around the schools during arrival and dismissal and responds to any calls the district makes.
“Pretty much if its minor things, they (safety officers) handle it,” he said. “If it’s misdemeanors or arguments between two students, they can handle that. Now if it’s a felony … they’re going to call one of us and we’ll come out there and handle that.”