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Resource officer program losing sergeant position

By Chris Paschenko 340-2442

When the head of the Decatur Police Department's Student Resource Officer program steps down in January to become Morgan County's probate judge, the city will fill the vacancy, but the program will no longer have an in-house supervisor.

The City Council on Monday voted to replace Sgt. Greg Cain, who was promoted to sergeant while working in the program, with a rank-and-file officer, saying the sergeant position would better serve the public working the streets.

Cain said he's training patrol officer Mike Landrum to replace him, but he still believes the unit, which has five officers serving 20 campuses representing about a fifth of the city's population, would be better served if it had a supervisor working exclusively in the schools.

"I believe there needs to be a sergeant over the program," Cain said Monday prior to the council's decision. "There are a lot of reports that need to be done on a day-to-day basis. A supervisor, or someone with rank, could get things done quicker by being able to make a decision that you're not able to do as an officer. It carries some responsibility with it."

Decatur's resource officer program received a national honor in 2005, and it has been a model for other programs across the country.

Cain was named national resource officer of the year in 2005, and his program has received state awards since its inception in 2002.

"Austin High School has won the attorney general's safe schools award four times, and Decatur High School has won the state award three consecutive years," Cain said. "Oak Park Middle School won this year."

Cain, a 16-year veteran officer, was elected probate judge in November and takes office Jan. 15.

Lt. Col. Ken Collier, the deputy police chief, said the resource officer program is the only unit at full staff.

"Traffic, anti-crime, patrol, detectives are all short-handed," he said. "We're missing 15 to 20 officers, which is 10 percent of the sworn officers on the force."

He said 15 recruits are in training and will help fill the void.

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