The Cody City Council gave approval for Cody Police and city staff to apply for a U.S. Department of Justice grant that would provide funds to put a school resource officer at the Cody Middle School.
The decision comes on the heels of the swatting incidents and false report of a school shooter at Cody High School earlier this month.
CMS Principal Nathan Tedjeske and CMS Assistant Principal Jacob Gogan gave their support during the city council’s work session April 25.
Tedjeske said that while the Cody School District already has an SRO — Officer Jason Potter — he is “stretched really thin.”
“For one person to cover seven schools is hard,” he told the council. “But we more and more have situations that pop up that it’d be very advantageous to have an SRO on premises.”
Tedjeske added, “it would make things a lot smoother and easier for the middle school specifically to have somebody actually on school grounds.”
Gogan agreed with Tedjeske, saying an SRO was needed based on the recent swatting incidents at the high school.
“We know minutes can be the difference between saving lives,” Gogan said. “Having a school resource officer in our building makes that difference.”
CPD and city staff will be applying for the DOJ’s COPS — or Community Oriented Policing Services — grant. Its purpose is specifically to provide funding for law enforcement agencies to hire or rehire additional officers to “increase their community policing capacity and crime prevention efforts,” according to the city’s agenda report.
If awarded the grant, the city would receive a total of $125,000 over a three year period to pay for the SRO position, Chief Finance Officer Leslie Brumage told the council.
She said the total cost of paying an SRO salary and benefits over that period would be $439,602, with an additional $65,000 required to purchase a vehicle and gear for the SRO.
The cost remaining after the $125,000 grant, Brumage said, would be shared between the city and the Cody School District, with the city providing $217,687 and the district providing $221,914.
“It is priceless for us just to have that quicker response time,” Gogan told the council.
Cody Police Chief Chuck Baker said an additional SRO would be “advantageous” for CPD as well, since that SRO would be working as a patrol officer when school is not in session.
“It gives us another officer, another resource during the non-school months, which is our high call volume time of the year,” Baker said. “But I got to tell you, when you invest in your school security, it’s the best investment you can make.”
Mayor Matt Hall and the council were generally supportive of the grant, although council member Jerry Fritz wanted to make sure the city wasn’t pulling too much money out of its reserves.
“I’m 100% behind everything you guys are talking about here, but where are we getting the money?” he asked. “We keep adding [expenditures] and the [reserves] are dwindling.
“We’re going to have to figure out another way to get income in order to support some of this.”
Brumage said the general fund, by the end of fiscal year 2023, will have a little over eight months in reserves as well as the additional interest the city has been accruing on its investments.
“I think we will be able to afford this,” she said. “Aside from any sudden economic disaster, I think that we’re in a good position for this right now.”
The council also gave its approval for CPD and city staff to apply for a $5,000 microgrant offered by DOJ to be used for community outreach programs.
Baker said that grant would likely go toward continuing the simulated crime scene investigation activity CPD does at CMS for Friday enrichment.
“There’s a lot of federal [grant] dollars out there ... and we appreciate staff trying to find ways to help [the city] save money,” Hall said.
Good Lord! The amount of money poured into Park County schools and they can’t hire their own security?
Well, at least they aren't applying for a grant to get a second SWAT tactical armored vehicle...
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