St. Charles County approves bill to add school resource officers to elementary schools

Posted on 06/28/2022
St. Charles County Police vehicle parked outside of Hollenbeck Middle School

St. Charles County Council has approved bill 5079 which would use federal COVID-19 relief dollars to place school resource officers (SRO) in Francis Howell School District elementary schools. 

The Council voted unanimously in support of the bill at the June 27, 2022 County Council meeting. This vote gives final approval to place an SRO at elementary schools located in unincorporated St. Charles County. The St. Charles County Police officers would serve schools in the Francis Howell, Orchard Farm, Fort Zumwalt, Washington and Wentzville School Districts for the 2022-2023 school year. 

St. Charles County Councilman Joe Brazil says this is a plan that is necessary in the aftermath of the tragic shooting that left two teachers and 19 students dead at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

“I think it’s important that we do work for the schools for the following years to fund this. This can’t just be a one-and-done year. We got to keep this up. This is very important to the security of our kids,” said Brazil. 

School districts normally share the cost of SROs. However, the American Rescue Plan Act allows funds to be spent to combat violence, and in view of the nationwide danger to schools of this violence, the provision allows the County to provide 14 additional officers at no cost to the districts. 

“Right now, we’ve got this federal money that is available, but we’re going to have to in our budget find a way to fund this in the future,” said County Executive Steve Ehlmann. 

Every police officer in St. Charles County—including SROs—receives Multi-Assault, Counter-Terrorism Action Capabilities, or MACTAC, training. School scenarios are included in the 10 hours of intense training; officers are reminded that incidents are spontaneous and that suspects are unpredictable and could be heavily armed.

Citizens, teachers and nonprofit agencies also have benefitted from active shooter training. Many have gone through four hours of 4E School Training: Educate, Escape, Evade and Engage—or Run, Hide, Fight—taught by the St. Charles County Police Department. 

“MACTAC is a rigorous training,” says St. Charles County Police Chief Kurt Frisz. “We place trainees in a variety of scenarios and make it as real as possible to make certain we can stop an active shooter in any situation. For officers, it’s a reality of our job and why we serve to protect the public, but for civilians, it’s something they need to be prepared for and to think about. We want to equip them with as many tools as we can to help save their lives and the lives of those around them and in their care.”

“I am thrilled that the Council has voted to pass this legislation, which will ensure our schools continue to be a safe place for learning,” FHSD Superintendent Dr. Nathan Hoven said. “The District has a longstanding partnership and positive relationship with local law enforcement. They know our schools and our safety plans well. Our students’ safety is always our top priority.”

FHSD has a contractual relationship with police departments in St. Charles County, St. Charles City, Cottleville and St. Peters to provide armed SROs at 10 middle and high schools. This newly approved bill would mean funding for SROs in 7 of the 10 FHSD elementary schools. District officials are actively working with other municipalities in hopes that we can arrange for SROs in the remaining three elementary schools that are located outside of unincorporated St. Charles County (Henderson Elementary, Harvest Ridge Elementary and Warren Elementary).  
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