Law officer to be hired for Warren Central

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 11, 2009

Warren Central High School will soon have its own school resource officer.

Trustees of the Vicksburg Warren School District voted Thursday to give Superintendent Dr. James Price approval to hire a certified law enforcement officer for the Mississippi 27 campus starting in January.

Three of the district’s schools inside the city limits — Vicksburg High School and Warren Central and Vicksburg junior highs — have officers employed by the Vicksburg Police Department assigned to the schools.

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Warren Central is outside the city limits. It has security personnel, but not sworn law officers.

“We have not had the position there before,” Price said.

Like Dewayne Sims, resource officer for the district overall, the new officer will be an employee of the school district. Sims will interview candidates for the position, and the new officer, who is required to be trained and certified by the state, will report to him, Price said.

The position provides not just police presence in the school but an accessible person of trust for students to confide in and get to know, he said.

“Basically what you want them to do is bond with the students,” Price said. “They interact with all the students, not just in a police capacity but more as a community authority, someone who understands the day-to-day ins and outs of what’s going on.”

The other side of the equation is that the officer develops a rapport with the students and takes a personal interest in them, Price said.

“So many times the children would love to speak with someone in a police capacity but they don’t know anyone,” he said.

If necessary, though, the officer is empowered to make arrests and perform all the normal duties of a police officer.

Salary for the new officer will initially be paid by the district and then by a Safe Schools/Healthy Students grant, which may pay for additional officers.

Schools here were awarded the grant in July as part of a joint effort by the U.S. departments of Education, Health and Human Services and Justice. The district will receive a total of about $5.6 million over four years, the largest SS/HS grant awarded this year in the nation.

Longtime VWSD teacher, reading facilitator and grant coordinator Sherrie Williams was tapped in October as project director for the grant and has been completing paperwork, developing goals and proposed activities, and attending training sessions, tasks required before the district is given final approval and funds begin to flow.

Thursday, trustees approved Williams’ recommendation that Education Opportunity Center Inc., based in Hot Springs, Ark., be awarded the contract as local evaluator for the first year of the project.

The company’s fee is still being negotiated, Price told the board, but will not be more than $105,000, per grant specifications, and will be paid out of grant proceeds.

Williams also received approval to travel to Bethesda, Md., with an EOC representative in January for a final SS/HS workshop. All associated travel expenses are funded by the grant.

Once finalized, the grant will support programs for youth with the schools working in tandem with local law enforcement agencies, county Youth Court, Warren Yazoo Mental Health and other community agencies.

The programs are expected to fully kick off in the fall, Williams has said, with specifics available after the final grant approval.


Contact Pamela Hitchins at