Town reviews budget to fund school resource officers; chief putting reserves in place


By 2020, the Brownstown Police Department hopes to have two school resource officers in place.

To help the other officers patrolling the town, Chief Tom Hanner said he has three people interested in volunteering their time as reserve officers, and he may wind up with more.

With Officer Jordan Hawn submitting his resignation letter after being hired by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, the town is in the process of hiring his replacement through a lateral transfer. That will put the department at eight full-time officers.

One of those officers, Samuel Hughes, currently is taking advanced school resource officer training in French Lick, and another officer, Adam Behmlander, plans to enroll in SRO training.

Brownstown Town Council President Sally Lawson said the council had approved the hiring of a ninth officer, but that may not happen soon.

“Our thought is to hold off on the ninth because … our budget can’t sustain the ninth,” Lawson said.

“It can’t sustain the eighth,” Clerk-Treasurer David Willey responded.

During a meeting in June, the council announced Brownstown Central Community School Corp. had budgeted $46,000 for a second SRO to serve its three buildings. The town would have to find nearly $25,000 to cover the remainder of the officer’s salary, uniform and equipment.

Plus, the officer would need a car to use, which could cost between $15,000 and $20,000.

Jade Peters, the school corporation’s business manager, said he came up with the $46,000 based on how many school days the SRO would be working.

Lawson said the town could use the officer when school is on breaks.

Adding reserve officers would help provide two officers on every shift, she said. At this point with the budget, though, the reserves may have to use their own equipment.

Hanner said he is really short on equipment and is waiting to hear back from the Indiana State Police about stunguns and handguns and SIG for a handgun order.

“There’s not much we can do,” he said. “The main thing we’re focusing on is being able to double up on cars for the second and night shift crew.”

Hanner said he doesn’t think it’s a good idea to have the reserve officers cover whole shifts by themselves.

“If you’ve got a case that’s really complex where you may get subpoenas for court and hearings, that’s not fair to them because they are getting paid by their employer,” he said. “Typically, we try to work the major stuff through a full-time guy, and if it’s something real big, they’ll take it as a courtesy.”

As far as the second SRO, Superintendent Tim Taylor said the grant application cycle recently opened, and the school corporation intends to apply.

The town proposed to have the officer start Aug. 1, 2020, but Peters said that person could start Jan. 1 if the town’s budget allows.

“The first few months may be a lot of training time, so the proposed start date was Aug. 1 just to make sure we have them done before school,” Lawson said.