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FARMINGTON -- Farmington Police Department will meet one of its goals this year when it adds a second school resource officer to its roster in March.

Patrol officer Josh Catron will move into the role of school resource officer to team up with SRO Jimmy Brotherton. Farmington School District has agreed to pay 80 percent of Catron's salary, with the city kicking in the balance of 20 percent.

Bryan Law, superintendent of schools, said the new position gives the school district two school resource officers and a certified school security officer.

"I think that's a dramatic step from where we were," Law said. "We're grateful to the city (for) working with us on this."

Catron's first day as a SRO will be March 26, the day students return from spring break.

Law said Catron's home base will be the high school and Brotherton will be based at Farmington Junior High. Bill Phelan, who is a certified security officer and a school employee, will be based at Farmington Middle School but Brotherton and Phelan will go back and forth between the middle school and junior high.

"We should have a presence all day every day from the fourth grade up," Law said, noting it doesn't cover all schools but the resource officers will be at the elementary schools at times and are working on a program with the younger students to get to know them and establish relationships.

The state recommends school districts have one SRO for every 1,000 students. Farmington will have two SROs and a certified security officer for its 2,500 students, Law said.

Lt. Chad Parrish, who served as Farmington's school resource officer before Brotherton, said the district has needed a second school officer for many years.

"When I was the guy, I was running wild and Jimmy (Brotherton) is running wild right now," Parrish said.

Parrish's preference is to have an officer in every school building, but he noted this is a good start.

Brotherton is in his second year as Farmington's school resource officer and sixth year with the police department. A second officer will benefit students and staff, the city and the police department, Brotherton said.

Currently, he's going around to all the campuses in the district.

The position is important, Brotherton said, because the students and the community are able to have a positive relationship with law enforcement.

A second SRO will allow the officers time to implement programs for the students and have more time to interact with them, he added.

Phelan has served as a certified school security officer since October 2018. He worked for Fayetteville Police Department for 20 years and in his last 10 years he was on the Special Investigations Unit for crimes against children. He also served as a public information officer and supervised the department's SROs.

The main difference between a certified school security officer and a school resource officer is that Phelan cannot make an arrest. He carries a weapon, can assist with an investigation or if an altercation occurs on campus.

Phelan said he blends in with the rest of the teachers and does not have his weapon out in the open. He helps in other areas such as traffic control, bus duty, truancy and contacting parents.

"I help with about anything," Phelan said. "I'm here for the security of the kids."

To become a certified school security officer, Phelan was required to complete 60 hours of training.

He also supports having a second school resource officer in the district.

"I think it's great," Phelan said. "You can't look at the size of a district and say what may or may not happen."

Nathan Ogden, assistant principal at Farmington Junior High, said the presence of having a school resource officer on campus tends to help change student behavior.

"It's an extra layer in place to assure parents that their kids are safe," Ogden said. "It's another safety net on top of our door locks, security cameras and locked exterior doors, as well as the RAVE app and active shooter drills."

Ogden said he believes Farmington has over-prepared, "which is a good thing."

Law said he recently met with Catron to talk about the differences of being a patrol officer versus working within a school environment.

"He'll be able to come in for the last part of the year and get his feet wet," Law said. "I'm excited we'll get him for a few months."

General News on 02/06/2019

Print Headline: Farmington Adds School Resource Officer Position

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