Chisago County approves school resource officer for RC schools

Chisago County Sheriff Brandon Thyen approached the Chisago County Board of Commissioners during its meeting June 20 for approval of an agreement to provide school resource officer services to the Rush City School District.

“There’s been quite a few discussions over the years to get a school resource officer into the Rush City School District. It is the only school district in the county that does not have a school resource officer,” Thyen said. “The discussions at this point are to get the city of Rush City involved with the school district to purchase those SRO hours in the school district.”

According to Thyen, the city of Rush City and the Rush City School Board want to implement a school resource officer into the school district for safety and security reasons. The board and the city both agree to cover 26.5 percent of the yearly costs and purchase 1,100 contracted school resource officer hours to be used in the school district. The county will be covering 47 percent of the deputy costs for the 980 remaining hours the deputy will not be in the schools.

Thyen said the contract will be for two years for the school resource officer and the deputy will be from the Chisago County Sheriff’s Office. Commissioner Mike Robinson asked if the city of Rush City will get extra coverage other than the school.

“The benefit to the city is they’re getting another licensed deputy within the city limits. They will not be getting any extra, per se, contract hours to the city,” Thyen said. “The hours they are purchasing are for the school resource officer. The benefit the city sees from doing this is that approximately 8 percent of all the calls for the Rush City contract actually go to the school.”

Thyen said having a school resource officer will also free up a normal contracted deputy to be more proactive in dealing with other issues within Rush City.

Robinson asked if the school resource officer would be free to leave the school if there is an emergency in Rush City. Thyen said the officer can leave the school.

“They can also assist the township outside the city,” Thyen said. “So the benefit is we would then have another stationed licensed deputy in the north end of the county.”

Thyen said another benefit of having a school resource officer is they get to know the students and families. He explained when there are incidents outside of school, the knowledge the sheriff’s office has gained and the relationships made with families and students become valuable.

Robinson asked Thyen what the school resource officer would do during the summer months when the students are out of school.

“I’m currently working with Franconia Township and they’re actually looking at possibly contracting some hours, and I’ve heard the city of Harris has mentioned they would like to increase their contract hours as well,” Thyen said. “I don’t know if either one of those entities will end up doing that, but that would be something this deputy would be able to fulfill during the summer hours, as well as help cover some of our contract hours.”

A motion to approve the school resource officer service contract was made by Robinson and a second was made by Commissioner Lora Walker and passed unanimously.

“I think it’s a benefit for all of us, for Rush City, the county and the townships,” Board Chair George McMahon said. “Public safety, especially in the schools today, is the No. 1 priority.”

Kelly Thyen