By Sue Webber
The Rogers City Council on Aug. 12 approved a description of the School Resource Officers (SRO) position and a memorandum of agreement between the city and Minnesota Teamsters Public and Law Enforcement Employees Union, Local 320.
Rogers currently has two full-time police officers assigned as SROs, covering Rogers High School, Rogers Middle School, Hassan Elementary School and Rogers Elementary School.
As the 2020-21 school year begins and District 728 schools start with an as yet uncertain configuration, the officers will be available on a daily basis.
“The SROs assist in the establishment and coordination of a cooperative community approach among schools, parents, police and other resources in meeting the students and community’s needs,” Police Chief Dan Wills said. “Additionally, they are responsible for conferring with school staff, parents, neighbors and other city and community members regarding pre-delinquent behaviors; identifying problems and potential problems by inspecting school areas, grounds and property; conducting investigations within the school and school community; and investigating juvenile crimes as assigned by our police department.
“We do give a lot to our schools; we have a great relationship with the school district,” Wills said.
The contract specifies that during the school year, the two officers will spend 56.25% of their time (4.5 hours per day) working directly on school district issues. The SROs are not responsible for duties other than school-related issues during the school year, Wills said. During the summer months, the SROs are assigned to patrol duties.
Wills said the availability of the two officers means that the city will add the equivalent of one full-time detective to its investigation unit during the school year, and two full-time detectives during the non-school times without requiring additional personnel. Rogers detectives currently are working on 75 open cases, according to Wills.
“Our investigations load is too high,” Wills said. “We’re trying to find ways to do more with the people we have.
“This will be classified as an assignment for up to five years so we can rotate our employees through this position to enhance their job knowledge and give them career enrichment opportunities,” Wills said.
Mayor Rick Ihli said the city’s SRO officers “do a tremendous job. The relationships they have built are pretty incredible. I see it as a really important part of our community, pretty invaluable.”
Extension for DEED loan
In other action, the council approved a one-year extension for the Access Point Technologies, EP, Inc. Minnesota Investment Fund Loan/Grant project. The contract is between the city of Rogers and the State of Minnesota, acting through the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). The contract gives the company two years to meet job/wage and investment goals, or they are required to request an extension.
“This is not a new business subsidy and no city funds are involved,” City Administrator Steve Stahmer said.
The two-year $300,000 loan from DEED passes through Rogers to the company, he said. The current deadline of Sept. 20, 2020 now will be extended to Sept. 20, 2021.
According to Stahmer, the city in 2017 worked with the biomedical technology manufacturer to secure a DEED loan/grant as part of the company’s location and buildout in Rogers. “The company was making their final location decision between the state of California or the city of Rogers, based largely upon where their operations were being conducted and the relative costs/benefits of the two locations,” Stahmer said in a memo to the city council.