Johnson County school district wants to hire a police force, mental health counselors

JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. -- A Johnson County school district wants to create its own police force and start mental health counseling for students, but those services come with a price that some taxpayers aren’t sure they’re willing to pay.

Clark-Pleasant Community Schools will be asking for an increase to cover those services on this November’s ballot.

If passed, the average $100,000 home would cost an extra $33 in property taxes each year. That extra money would be used in part to help the district to hire and train six to 10 officers and form their own police force.

Lauren Wagerman has a fourth grader at Clark-Pleasant Community Schools but says she’s not sure she likes the idea, and she isn’t sure having officers would change anything that might happen.

“I’m not really sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s kind of scary that it’s coming to this,” said Wagerman. “There are police officers around town all the time, but does that make it really safe? I don’t know.”

Roger Inabnitt supports the idea, especially with today’s school climate.

“They need that security,” Inabnitt said. “All these things have been happening at other schools. We are not exempt from that. That could happen to us too.”

Clark-Pleasant Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Spray says they took public input into account and looked at what other nearby districts were doing before deciding on what they would ask for.

“IPS, Wayne Township, Perry Township, Franklin Township, Center Grove... all have an element of a police force,” Spray said. “It’s not unique in Indiana. It’s just not common.”

If the referendum passes, Spray says the district would like to hire current or retiring police officers, K-9 units and two mental health specialists.

“To run programs to also go along with not just when kids are in crisis, but also to try to prevent kids from being in crisis by running anti-bullying programs, suicide prevention programs,” Spray said.

The district wants to have police coverage at all eight school campuses.

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