By Lindsay Doty
The Danville Community School Corporation will start the new school year with its own police department.
The newly formed DCSC Police Department will include the district’s two existing school resource officers (SROs) who have been working at the district in a partnership with the town and Danville Metropolitan Police Department.
The change will mean enhanced police training that is tailored to working with children. It will also mean DCSC will have control over the schedule and funding.
In May, the school board voted to begin the process of creating a school department.
Student resource officer Derek Wodtke and Cpl. Matthew Oliphant, who was recently named chief of the newly created department, will make up the team. Both are sworn police officers who began their careers with the Danville Metropolitan Police Department.
The change will mean training that is tailored to working with children and better scheduling.
“The role of the School Resource Officer is much different than that of a patrol officer, and it requires a different type of police work than what most officers are accustomed to,” Oliphant said. “Under the previous contract between DCHS and the town of Danville, there were no requirements for the officers assigned to the schools to be certified as SROs, which meant that officers were being assigned to the school instead of choosing to work there voluntarily. This will no longer be the case with the creation of the DCSC Police Department as each officer is hired specifically for the position of SRO.”
School leaders are using an $80,000 grant to fund training and technology for the force.
To help with the transition, the Danville Town Council recently voted to donate police equipment to the school department.
Some of the items include a 2011 DMPD patrol vehicle that was being phased out, a speed radar, laptop computer and a bulletproof vest that was custom-fitted to Oliphant.
“We are incredibly grateful for the relationship Danville Schools has with the Danville Metropolitan Police Department and the town of Danville. This generous donation helps us tremendously and aids us in better serving our students, staff and families,” Ashton Brellenthin, DCSC spokesperson, said. “We will continue to foster our relationship with the town and police department to make Danville a great place to live, work and learn.”
Danville starts school Aug.13.