Pennington County Commission OKs school cop for Hill City

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) -- The Pennington County Commission Tuesday approved a new full time sheriff's deputy for the Hill City Schools.

The panel voted 3-1 to OK the new position for 2019.

The county will cover about two thirds of the $80,000 annual cost of the deputy.

The Hill City School District will contribute the rest.

School safety is a growing concern and the added position -- known as a School Resource Officer, or SRO -- marks a growing trend in the area.
In the past few months the Spearfish and Box Elder schools have added SROs and the Oglala Lakota County Schools added armed School Sentinel officers.

"The SRO position is vital in every school district and we also really see that relationship building serves our kids and our families in many capacities -- through mental health outreach, just getting to know one another and having that additional person that our students and families can speak to in confidence if there are issues that affect them," said Mike Hanson, superintendent of the Hill City School District.

Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom said he hoped to have the new deputy installed by the end of the year and would be able to absorb any 2018 salary costs in his budget.