The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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February 19, 2014

Neosho manager ends contract for police officer in schools

NEOSHO, Mo. — The city of Neosho is ending its contract with the Neosho School District to provide a police officer in schools, City Manager Troy Royer told the City Council on Tuesday night.

Royer said there has been a lack of communication with the officer, referred to as a school resource officer, by the staff and administration at Neosho High School.

The city paid half of the officer’s salary, and the school district paid the other half. Royer said the city would take on the officer’s full salary in removing him from the schools.

“In our agreement, every incident that happens is supposed to be reported to the SRO,” Royer said after the meeting, referring to the officer. “It’s come to the point where there is no communication from the high school.”

School Superintendent Dan Decker said some of the issues Royer brought up started before he was hired as superintendent. He assumed the job last summer.

“Since the time I’ve been here, we’ve tried to work together with the city to arrive at a compromise,” Decker said Wednesday.

Royer said the officer in the past several months was moved from space allocated at the high school to the administration building, where there are no students.

“Unfortunately, these issues appear to not have been resolved over the past year and have in fact escalated to the point that they have compromised the essence of the SRO program,” Royer wrote in a letter to Decker.

Royer said high school administrators conduct interviews with witnesses themselves, potentially causing evidence to be lost if a crime had been committed. He said principals at the other schools have been cooperative with the officer. He also said the cancellation of the contract won’t affect public programs by police in schools.

“At the district right now,” Decker said, “we’re looking at what other avenues are available to us for full-time law enforcement in the schools.”

Asked if that might involve a private security company or the Newton County Sheriff’s Department, Decker said both would be considered, but those discussions haven’t happened.

“Hopefully at some point we can reconcile with the city,” Decker said, calling the situation “unfortunate.”

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