Allen voters will decide on law enforcement officers for schools

By By Doris Maricle / American Press

OBERLIN — Full-time school resource officers, or SROs, could be in place in all Allen Parish public schools by January, if

voters approve a measure to fund the program.

The Allen Parish School Board voted unanimously Monday to call a May 4 election to ask voters to approve a 10-year, 7.5 property

tax to provide school resource officers in all 11 parish schools.

“This gives an opportunity to the people to decide on the safety of our schools,” Superintendent Michael Doucet said.

The millage, which is expected to generate about $630,000 a year, will be paid by property owners not covered by homestead

exemption.

A homeowner with a home of $100,000 would pay $18.75 a year, according to Assessor Richard Earl. Those homeowners with property

valued under $75,000 would not have to pay under the state’s homestead exemption law.

The money would be used to hire, train and equip the officers, to fund vehicles, and to install surveillance cameras and other

safety upgrades in schools, Doucet said.

The program will cost the parish about $500,000 a year.

“I believe the school resource officers can be a positive in our schools,” Doucet said. “They are not a guarantee there won’t

be any tragic incidents, but it will deter many things from happening.”

If approved by voters in May, the program could begin by January 2014.

The specially trained law enforcement officers would be present during the school day and for after school activities,including

sporting events, dances and meetings.

The officers will be much more than security guards, according to Sheriff Doug Hebert III, who presented plans for the program

last month.

He said the officers could play the role of an educator, counselor, mentor and a police liaison, while providing increased

safety and security for schools.