Question: What was the Sherriff's department role in providing school resources officers when you left/took office? What role do you see school resource officers having in the future?
Dwight Franklin's response:
In 2009, when I took office, Camden County had four community resource deputies in place. Those deputies were assigned to the areas of Climax Springs, Stoutland, Macks Creek and Hurricane Deck (Sunrise Beach). None of these deputies were solely school resource deputies, nor did the schools have any financial responsibility in the program. Their areas of responsibility were those schools and the communities around those schools. They worked four eight-hour shifts and one ten-hour shift, Monday through Friday.
That same year, the sheriff's office budget was reduced and four full-time vacant positions were frozen. I was faced with the decision of whether to run the patrol division short, which would increase response times and jeopardize community safety, or assign community resource deputies to regular patrol duties. With patrol deputies busy running from one call to the next, often with calls stacking up waiting to be answered, I decided to move the community resource deputies into patrol and placed deputies into geographical zones. By "zoning" deputies geographically we are able to maintain deputies in those areas previously serviced by community resource deputies and they are now available 24/7/365 rather than just the eight or ten hours per day, Monday through Friday. These deputies are available to answer calls at schools, or stop by for school visits (including drug sweeps).
The Camden County Sheriff's Office does not provide school resource deputies to any school district.
Each budget year since 2009, I have requested funding for the four positions that were frozen in 2009. Upon reinstatement of these frozen positions, or if a school district receives a school resource officer grant, I will reevaluate the community resource deputy position, or entertain the proposal of a school resource deputy position.
John Page's response:
In 2007 there was a general sales tax request of the citizens. Before this was requested, there were questions asked of the communities and schools as to their needs. In the small communities a deputy was the general consideration. The community / resource deputy was the answer. Someone assigned, who would interact with the school and the community, to resolve the issues of the area. Direct line of communication from school attendees and citizens to the Sheriff's office. The tax was passed in March 2008. Deputies were hired, trained and put into the communities. It was a positive process; these deputies patrolled that area, went to the schools and worked a flexible shift. My intent was additional training in 2009 and in the future increase the assigned deputies as needed. All deputies originally assigned had requested the assignment. They wanted to know the citizens in a positive way.
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*Editors' Note: In an effort to maintain fairness in our election coverage, we contacted all candidates running for the Camden County Sheriff's Department asking them to participate in a series of question and answer articles prior to the November General Election. The Lake Sun did not set a word limit or edit the responses in any wa