Local school district hires new student resource officer after more than a year without one

WEST FRANKFORT, Ill. — Micahel Nolen and his family took advantage of Saturday’s fresh snow outside the hills of Central Junior High School in the City of West Frankfort.

“Trying to get a little sledding in, maybe a snowball fight here and there,” Nolen said.

He and his sister regularly take their children out after snow falls to play on the schools playground and neighboring fields.  His two daughters, eight and twelve-years old, have gone to school in the Frankfort Community School District #168 their whole lives.

For the past few years, their schools have not had a full time school resource officer. In a special meeting Saturday morning, the districts school board changed that – approving funding to hire a resource officer.

“Things have changed we live in a different world then the one we grew up in,” Nolen said, “and we have to react appropriately to supply our kids with the things to keep them safe.”

The district said due to past funding issues and personnel changes employment of a full time resource officer has been hard.

“As we’ve gone along we see the need for it not just for students in school,” said Matt Donkin, Superintendent of Schools “but again the community outside us.”

Some schools in the area have partially open campuses and their high school sits in the middle of town near a highway.

Previously they had an part time officer, but Donkin says it wasn’t effective.

“You want the predictable [and]  unpredictability of an officer, Donkin said, “They’re not going to be on the same routine every single day– but you want them available and present every day.”

He says an armed officer from the City of West Frankfort Police Department adds a layer of protection and Nolen agrees.

“It does give you peace of mind as a parent to know there is somebody who could potentially stop a intruder from being there,” Nolen said.