Four School Resource Officers have been hired by Wallenpaupack Area School District. Three are retired Pennsylvania State Police personnel and one is a Hawley Borough Police Officer.
The officers were approved at the June 17th School Board meeting. They await approval by Pike County President Judge Joseph F. Kameen, who will conduct the oath of office, June 27th.
They are John Clader, Director of School Security; Bradley Beach, Eric Halas and Aaron Bertholf, School Resource Officers.
Clader, who is a Milford resident, is retiring from the Pennsylvania State Police, and was most recently station commander of the Blooming Grove barracks. Beach and Halas are also retired State Police troopers, who have served locally. Beach is from Honesdale, and Halas is from Hawley. Bertholf is a corporal with the Hawley Police Department and is a former Wayne County Sheriff Deputy. He is a Honesdale resident. Bertholf has teaching certifications he earned at Lackawanna College and uses them to teach other police departments in the area.
Clader's appointment is effective July 1st. He will be assigned at the High School, but will oversee the Resource Officers throughout the District.
Superintendent Michael Silsby told the Board that they had a large number of applicants, who were narrowed down to 15. These four candidates, who were approved, each have had experience working with the School District as law enforcement officers.
An important part of the newly created Resource Officer program, he stressed, is to become "embedded" in the school culture, becoming familiar with the students. The officers will assist in drug education and other classroom work, and are meant to serve as role models.
Their appointment follows the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, CT, last December. Like in other parts of the country, the incident led Wallenpaupack Administration to critique existing emergency plans and consider increasing school security.
Silsby stated that the officers will be given arrest authority for summary offenses. More serious offenses will still require dispatching local law enforcement to the school.
Intense training is scheduled for the four officers as well as Wallenpaupack administrators. The training is to be conducted by National School Resource Officer Association, August 12-16 at Northeastern Intermediate Unit #19. The training focuses on the many nuances for law enforcement working in a school environment.
He said they also received welcome news that the cost will not be quite as much, since the retired State Police personnel already have health benefits. The savings to the School District will be about $33,000 a year.
Salaries were set at $63,000 for the Director of School Security, and the officers' salaries range from $42,000 to $45,000.
A police vehicle will also be purchased, obtained through the state bidding process. The newly hired officers will be consulted concerning what is needed.
Page 2 of 2 - The Board also approved an hourly rate of $18.97 per hour was set for school police at District functions, with a minimum of $50.00 per activity for 2013-14.