The Town of Mint Hill could end up footing the bill for a new School Resource Officer at Rocky River High School, as well as a juvenile detective if the Board of Commissioners approve Police Chief Tim Ledford’s request for the positions.
Ledford presented his case to the board at its first budget workshop a week ago before and after its regularly scheduled meeting. Each head of town departments outlined to the board its needs for the next fiscal year. Mayor Ted Biggers was unable to attend to the workshop.
Ledford said Rocky River High School has seen 56 arrests as of February 7 of this year. Only Vance High School had more arrests in the same time period. Rocky River, because it is a first-year school, does not have a senior class. The school could grow by at least 500 students next year.
Other schools in CMS with high arrest rates like Vance have three School Resource Officers. Because of budget cuts, Rocky River was assigned only one. Mint Hill Police currently have to send one of their own officers to the school when an arrest needs to be made. They then have to transport the student to the jail in downtown Charlotte. Ledford estimated the trip to Charlotte takes about 1 hour 45 minutes, not counting the time they spend at the school.
Welch told the board that because most of the visits to Rocky River occurred Monday through Friday—an off peak time for the police—it hasn’t caused too many disruptions for the police. However, if the SRO at Rocky River calls in sick, then a Mint Hill Police officer has to go to the school.
Commissioners were concerned about the high arrest rate and use of police resources.
“Chief, that’s not fair,” Commissioner Mickey Ellington said. “They (CMS) want our money and police, but don’t want anything to do with us.”
Ledford said that because the arrests are in town, the Mint Hill Police are the ones who are called.
“This is the situation we were given and we have to deal with it,” he said.
Ledford also requested a juvenile detective, citing the number of arrests of juveniles including at Rocky River they have made in the past year. He said juvenile cases “require a certain degree of expertise because the juvenile system is so different from the adult system. Since 2007, Mint Hill Police handled 75 incidents where victims were 15 years old or younger.
Commissioner Brenda McRae asked if the SRO position could be combined with a juvenile detective, but Ledford said the detective could not effectively do the job if they were at Rocky River most of the time.
The board did not indicate if they will fill both or any positions Ledford requested.
Arrests made at CMS high schools between August 25, 2010 and February 7, 2011:
Rocky River: 56
Ardrey Kell: 2
Note: Independence’s arrests are down 58 percent from last year.