PALMYRA TOWNSHIP, PA — The Wallenpaupack Area School District has hired four law enforcement veterans to serve as school resource officers.
The officers are John Clader, Milford; Bradley Beach, Honesdale; Eric Halas, Hawley; and Aaron Bertholf. Clader, who was named director of school security, will be paid $63,000; the salaries for the other officers range from $42,000 to $45,000.
The money has been budgeted for the 2013-14 school year, said superintendent Michael Silsby. He said the district will save about $33,000 because three of the officers already have health benefits from their retirement packages from the Pennsylvania State Police.
The school board approved the hires, and on June 28 the officers were sworn in by Pike County President Judge Joseph Kameen. The board also approved an hourly rate of $18.97 for the officers to serve at district functions, with a minimum of $50 per function.
The officers will have arrest powers in cases of summary offenses, Silsby said. More serious offenses will require the response of local law enforcement.
The resource officers will be assigned to the high school, the north intermediate middle school, the north primary school and the south elementary school.
The officers and Wallenpaupack administrators are scheduled to undergo training next month, overseen by the National School Resource Officer Association. Even though the officers are experienced, the training will focus on the intricacies of working in a school setting, Silsby said.
Clader, a retired state trooper, was most recently station commander of the Blooming Grove barracks. Beach and Halas are retired troopers as well, also having served in Pike County. Bertholf is a corporal with the Hawley Police Department and a former Wayne County sheriff’s deputy.
Silsby said there were a large number of applicants, and the new officers were chosen from among 15 finalists due partly to their having previously collaborated with the district in law enforcement matters.
The district has had an emergency response program for several years, but decided to take extra measures after the mass shooting in Newtown, CT in December 2012.
The district hopes the officers can develop positive relationships with students and parents, teaching them about safety and how to be aware of the dangers of drugs and alcohol. The district hopes that once a rapport is developed, the students will feel comfortable with the officers and be able to confide in them. The district also hopes the officers can train teachers and staff about how to respond in emergency situations. The officers also will assist the administration in building security and crisis planning.