Wythe County public schools on the verge of losing resource officers

By Lezla Gooden - Reporter

WYTHE COUNTY, Va. - Just a week before the mass shooting at a South Florida High School, Wythe County Sheriff Keith Dunagan alerted the school board that he could not afford to keep the three school resource officers in schools.

The sheriff says funding for his department has been a problem for the past three years.

“I think they realize that the program must be funded and they are going to form a committee to try and figure out where those funds are going to come,” said Sheriff Keith Dunagan.

I spoke with Ryan Lawson, a mother of two and member of the Board of Supervisors.
She says they have already started to form that committee.

“There has been some talk from the Town Council that they will help provide police officers for the town schools, said Lawson. “ I really feel strongly (saying) that we don't need to just fund this program, but we need to extend it,” said Lawson.

The resources officers program is financed through the police activity fund with money from fines such as traffic violations.

Due to an overall shortage of sheriff's deputies, they will simply not have the manpower to assign resource officers to schools.

We spoke to Jason Willard, a father who says it is crucial that the county has additional resource officers and veterans at every entrance of the school.

“The people that are prone to do mischief, if they know that there are two or three battled-heartened blood-trained Marines or soldiers there and waiting for them at the school, they are not going to come,” said Willard.

The school resource officer program will remain funded through July 1 unless the appointed committee finds additional funds for next school year.

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