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School resource officer considered in Lehighton

Published September 28. 2010 05:00PM

Lehighton Police Sergeant Joseph Lawrence was given permission last night to talk with the Lehighton Area School District about possibly hiring a school resource officer; a police officer whose primary duty would be to work on school matters.

Lawrence told Lehighton Borough Council the resource officer would be returned to regular patrol duties during the summer months.

The council told Lawrence he can discuss the matter with school officials, but it will approve of such a position only if the school district assists with paying the officer's salary. The individual would be a part of Lehighton Police Department.

"We are getting calls at the schools," said Lawrence, but stressed, "The school district is doing a very good job. They are proactive."

Councilman Scott Rehrig said school resource officers exist in the Nazareth, Whitehall, and Saucon Valley school districts, but the districts pay their wages. In some other districts, such as Pleasant Valley, Stroudsburg, and Pocono Mountain, the district has its own police department, he added.

"If they want it, and want to do it, they should pay for it," Rehrig said regarding the school district.

Grant Hunsicker, council president, asked if this would mean hiring another police officer. Lawrence said it could mean hiring another officer, but it doesn't mean the individual officer would be named the school resource officer. It could be a current member of the police force.

Lawrence said he will research the potential of adding such a position and report back to the council.

Discussion of having a school resource officer was held by the council a number of years ago, but the proposal was dropped.

Police are sometimes called to school buildings if a fight occurs, if a student is suspected of having drugs, or for isolated other incidents.

In other business, council members approved some change orders regarding the construction of the new police station at the Station 2 building of the Lehighton Fire Department.

The council said work is progressing on the project, though a definite occupancy date wasn't known.

The change orders pertain to general construction and electrical work.

In other matters, there was discussion about traffic flow on Beaver Run Road at Shull-David Elementary School and Lehighton Area Middle School.

Lawrence said the speed limit on the road is 15 miles-per-hour. He proposed - and council agreed - with keeping it 15 mph during school hours and having it 25 mph when school isn't in session.

Rehrig said he opposes allowing left-hand turns by motorists other than buses to make left-hand turns from Beaver Run Road into the Shull-David horseshoe lot or the Middle School teacher's lot.

He also complained that while the majority of crossing guards do a great job, there are a few who opt to stay inside their vehicles when it rains.

Both Lawrence and Mayor Donald Rehrig will look into the matter.

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