Police Chief Says More Officers Needed For Tahlequah Schools
TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma - Tahlequah's police chief will be asking the city council Monday for approval to fund three additional student resource officers ("SROs") in the school district.
Currently, the district has four SROs. However, that leaves three schools unmanned at most times.
Tahlequah Police Chief Nate King says that needs to change.
"I have enough money in my budget that would pay for one city position," said Chief King. "We've come to an agreement with the school to split the cost of whatever city council approves tonight."
His goal is to have a resource officer present in every school because, in today's reality, you can never be too safe.
"For mass shootings and for school shootings we have to have the presence here to limit the damage of one of those," stated Chief King. "It has just gotten to the point where we can't play Russian roulette with it anymore."
Officer Brian Stanglin is one of the four current SROs. He has a routine while walking the halls of Tahlequah Middle School every day.
"I check all the doors and make sure they're all locked once we get all the kids inside," said Officer Stanglin.
Officer Stanglin is at the school for a number of things, even teaching self-defense to the female students. For him, it's all about building trust so the students feel comfortable coming to him with concerns.
"We stop a lot of things just by my car sitting out front or me sitting in the front office," said Officer Stanglin. "When I went to school, you would hear about violence in school - and it's horrifying these kids hear about it all the time."
Tahlequah Superintendent Lisa Presley says, even with tight budgets, cutting any SRO positions is simply not an option.
Presley said "the kids love them and the faculty and staff don't know what they would do without them."
Chief King says he feels confident that the city council will vote in favor of finding a way to fund the extra officers.