South Ripley hs school resource officer

Wanda English Burnett

' Two men with a vision have begun a positive change at South Ripley schools.

Middle school principal Rodney Hite, along with Versailles Town Marshal Joe Mann, teamed together to bring a resource officer to the schools through grant money. They also worked with Mary McCarty of the Southeastern Indiana Regional Planning Commission. "These guys have worked on this for two years," noted Dr. John Mehrle, superintendent of South Ripley schools.

Dan Goris, former transportation supervisor for the school system, was chosen for the position. Goris comes to the school having retired from the Indiana State Police after a 30-year career in law enforcement.
Goris attended the National Association of School Resource Officers in Iowa, in October, to prepare himself for the new position. He said he is glad to serve in this position saying, "It is to create a safe, good environment for education for students." The position as resource officer is to provide support to students, parents, educators and staff in matters related to law enforcement, according to the Roles and Responsibilities list given to Goris.

He will act as a liaison between the school system and the police department, be responsible for enforcing criminal laws and conducting criminal investigations directly involving the school corporation.
Hite explained the initiative as a proactive, positive one in conjuction with the school's mission statement, "South Ripley educates students today, to become responsible citizens tomorrow." It's about positive choices for students, Hite told The Versailles Republican.

Superintendent Dr. John Mehrle noted, "This is essentially to build relationships with students." He commended the "good work" of Hite and Mann, saying it was a collaborative effort between the school and the Town of Versailles, to make this happen.

The grant monies received is only for one year. Goris has the responsibility of getting more grant money each year to continue the progam. Dr. Mehrle felt the school was fortunate to receive the money this year since not many new grants for programs such as this were implemented. Hite agreed, saying that South Ripley was one of the only school corporations allowed a new grant.

Goris is actually employed through the Town of Versailles Police Department where Joe Mann is marshal.
The position is a Monday through Friday work week, during school hours, which "provides a great safety comfort for students," according to Hite. Goris also works for the Town of Versailles as an officer if needed.

Marshal Mann said "This has the potential to be big. We want to expand the program, who knows?"
High school principal Bob Meyer said he has already noticed a difference in the few weeks since Goris has been in the position in an official capacity, which was November 1.

Goris said he is impressed with the students at South Ripley and the respect they have shown him. He has done some informal counseling already, made some presentattions, and is settling into the role, which is much different than being an officer for so many years. It still provides an element of comfort to school officials that he is in the building in the capacity of a full fledged police officer.

Dr. Mehrle stressed bringing the resource officer is not to correct a problem at South Ripley, it is simply to enhance the educational program they already have going there. They are the only Ripley County school to have a resource officer outside of Batesville.