OGDEN -- School violence may not happen frequently in Weber County, but a new contract between the Weber School District and the county highlights the need school officials feel about keeping security as up-to-date as possible.
"The school district is becoming more proactive. We have been encouraging them for years to increase their funding, and met with them to encourage considering an increase in their contribution when Jeff Stephens was appointed superintendent," Sheriff Terry Thompson said.
According to Thompson, each high school in the county currently pays just more than $31,000 for a full-time resource officer, and it will increase to $35,000 over the next three years.
Junior high schools pay about $25,000 per year, but that will also be increased to $35,000 over the next three years.
"SROs have an obligation to build a rapport with students and watch out for criminal activity. We will never know how many problems are avoided by having SROs on site, but there is no question that they make a difference," Nate Taggart, spokesman for Weber School District, said.
The only junior high schools in the Weber district without full-time officers are Orion, South Ogden, North Ogden and Snowcrest.
The increased cost to schools does not seem to be a deterrent to officials, who are also currently working on a new endeavor that will update the security systems in Weber schools as well.
"The security camera systems were not all compatible with each other, and now they have invested in a system on the same network, and it is routed through the real-time crime center in Ogden City. They can give us information on what is happening inside the schools, and it will make our response time better," Thompson said.
However, the system is not in use by all of the schools, since an interlocal agreement still needs to be approved by the school district and each participating school.
The Weber School District was unable to provide statistics on the rise and fall of crimes in their schools over recent years.
One reason for the school district's enthusiasm for security might be the 2012 massacre at Newtown, Conn., which left 20 children and six adults dead.
"All of our schools have lockdown and lockout procedures. We do instruct students on what to do, kind of like fire drills. We are careful to keep them age-appropriate as well. In high schools we can go into a little more detail about what might happen. Our SROs are an integral part of our emergency response plans," Taggart said.
The three-year plan will gradually increase the amount each school is required to pay for a full-time officer.