We're sure many Brooke County residents were concerned when it was announced grant funding to support to placement of law enforcement officers in two area schools would not be made available this year.
Fortunately, the Brooke County Board of Education has been able to step forward and provide $50,000 to make sure a Prevention Resource Officer would be available for both Brooke High and Follansbee Middle School. A $20,000 grant, along with $60,000 from the Brooke County Sheriff's Department, will cover the remaining expenses. The grant was set to assist with the costs for an officer at Wellsburg Middle School.
The PRO program has been a great success in our schools, but that success also has had its problems. As more counties have seen how well the program can work, they too have placed officers in their schools and applied for grant funding to support their programs.
Unfortunately, there is only so much grant funding available, which in recent years has led to more of the costs falling to our local taxpayers through payments from our city and town councils, county commissions and school boards.
In fact, there currently are around 50 PROs stationed at schools in West Virginia, with Oak Glen High, Oak Glen Middle, Weir High and Weir Middle among those using the program. Hancock County also has seen its available grant funding decrease in recent years, with its citizens and officials often asked to provide additional support.
We are grateful the Brooke County Board of Education has the funding available to support the PRO program for the next year and hope officials are able to find some way for it to continue for many years to come.
These officers, while not patrolling the streets during the school day, continue to provide a valuable service as they protect our youth. They also provide an opportunity for students to openly communicate with law enforcement, therefore alerting them to potential dangers in the school or community.
To us, that extra sense of security for our children is worth every penny.