ARMA — On Monday, Northeast School District Superintendent of Schools Greg Gorman spoke to the Arma City Council to reconsider its decision about its choice to reassign the district’s school resource officer.
“Due to reassignment, we lost our school resource officer last year … [Arma Police Officer Rick Fox] Fox filled in and we were happy as a district and we would like to see him back at that capacity,” Gorman said.
In response to Gorman’s inquiry, Arma City Council Member Mary Lou Peace told him, “Our officer who is trained for that position is officer Leftwich and right now we need all of our officers on the street,” she said. “The school board turned down Mr. Leftwich and we need our officers on the street right now, we don’t have any spare officers … I think the school needs to do whatever it needs to do in order to provide a SRO.”
During the July 8 USD 246 Board of Education meeting some of the board members voiced opposing opinions, for and against Leftwich. Ultimately, Leftwich did not join the district as an SRO at the beginning of this school year.
According to Peace, since the district declined having Leftwich as an SRO, the council decided not to replace a retiring police officer in August. At this date, in order to reassign Leftwich or Fox, Arma would have to hire another police officer to cover all of the shifts at the city, Peace said. During the meeting Peace said that the city does not currently have the resources to hire another police officer.
Back in Oct. 2018 Leftwich — who also was an assistant coach at the time — was “reassigned” after being an SRO at the district for approximately a year. During the Arma City Council meeting on Monday, Leftwich said he had quit his job following a heated discussion with two assistant coaches during a football game. The board received a reassignment letter shortly after the incident, Gorman said during an interview.
Fox served as the district’s SRO until the end of the school year after Leftwich was reassigned. According to Gorman, the district presumed that Fox would continue to be the district’s SRO the following school year but Fox was reassigned as a “street” officer and Leftwich was reassigned to the district.
During the July 8 school board meeting, Arma Police Chief Howard Camp accompanied by Peace spoke to the board of education during public comment.
Camp said he is taking “Fox back to the road because that’s where he needs to be right now … the council had been addressed on this,” he said, adding that the council agreed Leftwich should be the school resource officer. “What Tommy has to offer you guys is a lot, he's brought a lot of security here and he's extremely proactive.”
According to Peace during the school board meeting, Leftwich is ALICE and SRO certified.
Camp also said Leftwich wanted to come back and that ultimately it is the police chief’s decision. Camp could not be reached for further comment. During the board meeting, one of the officials said that by leaving, Leftwich let the students down.
On Monday during the city council meeting, the council told the superintendent to speak to the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department and to look for retired police officers. Gorman told the council he has spoken with the sheriff’s department and there are no officers available at this time.