Ending a more than five-year partnership, the city of Richmond will not be providing school resource officers for Madison County Schools after the current school year.

While the officers — one who patrols Clark-Moores and Madison middle schools and another stationed at Madison Central High School — will remain until classes are dismissed in May, the school board will then have to hire its own school resource officers.

Superintendent Mike Caudill already has contacted Clay County Schools and plans to talk to school officials in Clark County as well to help guide the transition.

“We’re talking to districts that have school resource officers of their own,” he said. “We’re kind of going to try to copy their policies and guidelines and go from there. Our goal is to try to have something in place when school starts in August.”

Through a Community Oriented Policing Services program funded with a federal grant, the school district and the city of Richmond signed a contract about five years ago that put officers at Madison Central, Clark-Moores and Madison Middle.

When the COPS grant ended about two years ago, the partnership continued with the school board agreeing to reimburse the city around $60,000 a year for the two officers.

However, last year the city began to reconsider the agreement.

Members of the Madison County School Board and Richmond City Commission met in October to discuss the issue after Caudill originally had received a letter in September notifying him that the officers would not be stationed at the schools after the end of the month.

In the end, the officers remained in the schools.

“I think liability was the biggest issue,” said Caudill about the city’s decision. “They didn’t want their officers to have to deal with school issues and have the possibility of being in a lawsuit if something went wrong.”

City Manager David Evans, who said the officers sometimes had to do things that were not in the original scope of the agreement, sees the parting of ways as the best-case scenario for both sides.

“(The school board) has the ability under statute to have their own police force,” he said. “They can be their own employees on their own payroll with all of the arrest abilities. We feel like it would give the school board better control.”

“I think you see a lot of the larger school systems going to their own security staff,” Evans said.

Caudill said he hopes to have officers in place by mid-July so training can be conducted during the summer.

The Berea Police Department will continue providing an officer for the Madison Southern High School/Foley Middle School campus, he said.

“I wanted to stay with the city (of Richmond,)” Caudill said. “I think it’s a partnership that keeps us communicating with the city. It’s a lost partnership that I didn’t want to lose, but I understand their position. So, we will seek other partnerships with them and go on with our own officers.”

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