Earlier this week, Foyil Public Schools hired their first resource officer to protect students during school hours, with the help of the Rogers County Sheriff’s Department, The Board of County Commissioners and the Cherokee Nation.
Cpl. Scotty Moree of the Rogers County Sheriff’s Department will be stationed at Foyil Monday, overseeing the Elementary, Middle and High School, all located on the same campus. School security has been a national issue for years.
Gun violence is one of many safety concerns at schools. Bullying and physical violence, drug and tobacco use and theft also endanger students.
Sheriff Scott Walton said that his department plans to install a resource officer at every Rogers County school district that lacks a municipal police force.
Foyil schools were the first to receive an officer, since they are the furthest from any police force in Rogers County, more than 10 miles.
“The data shows that most school shootings are over within six minutes,” Walton said.
Considering the 12-16 minute commute to Foyil, Walton said, “It’s most likely the tragedy is over before we get there.”
Having a resource officer on campus during school hours improves response time in case of an emergency, has a possible deterrent effect on both crime and general misbehavior and allows law enforcement the opportunity to build relationships with students and the community at large.
“My main priority is giving students a safe environment,” Moree said, though he appreciates the community policing opportunity as well.
“Building that relationship with these kids now helps them become productive members of society,” he said, highlighting how a positive relationship with law enforcement counters the narrative that the police and Sheriff’s Department exist to arrest people and ruin lives.
Moree said he was also excited to work in the place where he spent all of his k-12 years and maintain a safe, educational environment.
Securing students at Claremore Sequoyah and Justus-Tiawah schools are the next priority for the Sheriff’s Department. Discussions are currently underway, overseen by the Board of County Commissioners.
The Sheriff’s Department will bill each of the schools for the hours worked, but will continue to pay salaries and benefits and employ deputies elsewhere while school is out of session.
The Cherokee Nation donated $13,000 to the Sheriff’s Department, earmarked toward school security.
Tribal Councilor Keith Austin said, “We believe that we are a partner with all communities. This was the perfect opportunity to partner to solve a serious problem.”
The Foyil School District also has one of the highest ratios of Cherokee students and the least access to law enforcement within Cherokee Nation boundaries.
Foyil Superintendent Rod Carter said “We are very appreciative for the Sheriff’s Department, the County and the Cherokee Nation. We would not have been able to do this without their help.”
“Having a resource officer on campus helps keep kids safe and gives parents, teachers and staff peace of mind,” Carter said. “We’ve never had an incident, but we are trying to be proactive. This is a very positive thing for the community.”
Foyil parent and Claremore Progress employee Mark Ogle said, “Anything we can do to ensure the safety of our children is a good thing.”