Strasburg considers pulling officer from high school

County sheriff may assign deputy to the facility

STRASBURG – The town police department plans to pull its officer from Strasburg High School after protecting the facility for 15 years.

Strasburg could save roughly $51,000 by not assigning a school resource officer to the campus, Town Manager Ryan Spitzer said Monday. In turn, the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office would assign a deputy to the school as it has at all the division’s other facilities.

Spitzer presented the proposal to Town Council this week as part of the fiscal 2017 budget and a way to close a $13,000 gap. Council plans to continue its work on the budget this month, now at $12.71 million, and is expected to hold the public hearing on the budget later this month and adopt the spending plan in June.

Sheriff Timothy C. Carter stated in an email Tuesday that he is aware of Strasburg’s budget shortfall.

“If (Strasburg) cannot fund the position, then my plan would be to hire a position using asset forfeiture funds as we did with the other County SRO positions,” Carter stated. “(Strasburg High School) is accustomed to having this level of service and I would certainly work with the Town and the School System to make sure that there is no lapse in service and that funding is available.”

Spitzer said Monday at the council’s work session that he and police Chief Tim Sutherly agreed the town could alleviate the shortfall by no longer supplying an officer to the high school as Strasburg had done for years. The town would save the $51,000 otherwise needed to cover the officer’s salary then use $13,000 of that amount to fill the budget gap.

Councilman Donald Le Vine recalled that Sutherly pointed out years ago the benefits to the town providing an officer to the school by keeping the communication lines open with the students. Le Vine asked Sutherly if and how the police department could maintain that rapport with the students, noting the importance of maintaining the children’s integration with Strasburg.

“It is important and there will be some loss in that; there’s no doubt,” Sutherly said. “We hope to alleviate some of that by doing some after-school programs and summer programs and things of that nature so that the kids are getting the protection and all that they get at the school.”

The town also could spend money on recreational opportunities for students, such as the future skate park, Sutherly added.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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