Resource officers to start in January at Eastland

LANARK – The Eastland School District’s two new school resource officers will start work in January.

Eastland Superintendent Mark Hansen said Wednesday that the district reached an intergovernmental agreement in November with Shannon and Lanark city officials to hire two school resource officers.

The part-time school resource officers are Andrew Schott, of Dixon, who’s an investigator with the Illinois Department of Corrections, and Joseph Payette, of Shannon, who retired after 27 years with the Illinois State Police.

An officer will be on duty from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. all 180 attendance days and for extra events, spending half their time at Eastland Elementary in Shannon and Eastland Junior-Senior High in Lanark.

Duties include handling initial police reports of crimes on campus, providing students and staff with law enforcement information, and coordinating investigative procedures between police and school administrators.

Hansen said the distirct first approached Shannon and Lanark in 2013 to see if the municipalities were interested in a partnership.

“At that time, there was not sufficient interest. We revisited the SRO idea with both municipalities this fall, especially in light of what happened in Dixon,” Hansen said.

On May 16, Dixon High School senior Matt Milby Jr. opened fire with a 9mm semi-automatic rifle near the gymnasium where 180 classmates were practicing for graduation. He took off running when confronted by school resource officer Mark Dallas, who pursued him outside of the school and shot him in the shoulder and hip.

The agreement will run from Jan. 3 to June 30, 2020. Shannon Police Chief Robb Groharing will schedule the officers, coordinating with Eastland so each school is served about equally.

The total cost is not to exceed $60,000 in the 2018-19 school year, with Eastland reimbursing 80 percent of the cost and Lanark reimbursing 10 percent to Shannon police. The city of Shannon will pay the remaining 10 percent. For the 2019-20 school year, costs are not to exceed $62,400, with a similar division of funding.

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