The Edmond Sun

November 22, 2013

Catholic school receives its own police officer

Sheriff’s grant, PTO fund new position

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
Special to The Sun

STILLWATER — Edmond’s Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School now has a school resource officer thanks to its PTO.

Since Monday, Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Ryan Locklear has been roaming the halls and classrooms of the school associated with St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, at Boulevard and Ninth Street.

On Tuesday, the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School PTO voted to fund the SRO. The grant is part of a four-year program in which the school will pay 25 percent of the SRO’s salary for the first three years, then 100 percent for the fourth year. The first year will cost the organization about $9,000, and the funds came from parent-raised funds, said PTO President Cynthia Keenan.

“We have a second-to-none staff,” Keenan said.

Through school fundraisers the PTO helps support teacher needs including technology upgrades, Keenan said. Vice president of the PTO is Edmond Police Detective Marion Cain.

This semester, 385 pre-K through eighth-grade students are enrolled in the school, and additional students attend its Child Development Center, said Principal Angie Howard.

Howard said after 26 people — 20 students and six adults — were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary on Dec. 14, 2012, in Newtown, Conn., parents voiced their desire to have an SRO at the school.

Parents are pleased with the presence of the SRO, who works 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. most days, Howard said. He is already building positive relationships with the students. He is enhancing an already safe environment and giving parents more peace of mind, Howard said.

Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel, who attends St. John’s, learned about the desire and the request was included in the agency’s application submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice, which awards grants for officers in schools.

Whetsel said federal dollars are now funding six additional SROs from his agency — one at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School, three at Deer Creek, one at the Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center and one at Casady School in Oklahoma City.

The OCSO now funds a total of 28 SROs in Oklahoma County, Whetsel said. Noting the agency would solicit veterans perhaps helped boost the chances of getting the federal dollars, Whetsel said.

Whetsel said he wished the agency could staff SROs at every school in the county. | 341-2121, ext. 108