City, school officials take first step in getting officer in school district

City council members unanimously approve decision to help fund officer for school district
City council members unanimously approve decision to help fund officer for school district
LAKE CITY, AR (KAIT) - The Riverside School District is one step closer to getting an officer at their school. 
At Monday night's council meeting, council members unanimously passed a decision that gets the ball rolling to put an officer into the Riverside School District.
Lake City Mayor, Jon Milligan told Region 8 News he and Riverside Superintendent, Tommy Knight have been discussing getting an officer into their school district for over a year now.
"After the school shootings up north," Milligan said. "We've been on it pretty hard since then."
Though council members are in favor of getting an officer in the district and Superintendent Knight said school board members are also in favor, city and school officials realize the main problem would be funding.
A problem they are hoping to offset with the COPS FAST Grant.
"With the grant that it looks like the city and school are gonna get, that eases the pain a little bit, gets us through the first three years," Superintendent Knight explained.
The grant would partially fund the position for the first three years. Lake City Police Chief Winred Saffell told Region 8 News the grant pays 100% of the officer's salary, insurance and retirement the first year, 50% the next and 25% the third year.
"Where small towns can't just afford to go out and hire these officers and pay that money, this kind of is an assist to get another officer," Saffell said.
The years after that, the school and the city would split the officer's pay. Milligan explained that split would likely be 75/25 divide with the school district paying the higher amount.
This officer would become the fifth officer in Lake City. They would not be labeled as a School Resource Officer, rather an officer with the city who is assigned to school security. Milligan explained that when school isn't in session, that officer would patrol the streets.
Milligan told Region 8 News he feels this is a win-win for the city and the school. He also said he hopes this will draw more people to Lake City.
"When people go to our website and see 'Hey, they've got a police officer in their school' I really think it'll help give them peace of mind that there's an officer at the school and help the town prosper and grow," Milligan said.
Next, the decision to get an officer goes to the Riverside School Board.
Milligan told Region 8 News regardless if anything falls through, they'll continue working to get an officer into their schools.
Region 8 News will continue to track this story and bring you any updates as they become available.
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