South Charlotte

School will get a second officer

Mint Hill has allocated money for an extra resource officer for Rocky River High School.

The extra officer is needed on site because police radios still won't work inside the school building.

The problem exists because there is no bi-directional antenna and amplifier, which is necessary equipment for the emergency radios to communicate inside the school's thick walls of masonry and steel.

Rocky River is in a rural setting with no other nearby towers to access.

If a situation at the school requires additional support, School Resource Officer John Hathcock must do what he did last year: go to the nearest window so his cell phone will function properly or use his walkie-talkie to call the office and ask them to dial 911.

Mint Hill police say they believed the school system would install the equipment while the school was under construction. But school officials say the equipment was never in the budget.

Mint Hill Police Chief Tim Ledford said more manpower is needed because of the number of arrests at Rocky River. Last school year there were 85 calls to the school and 104 arrests.

Once Rocky River opened last year, the problem was discovered, but the town of Mint Hill and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools could not agree on a solution. Mint Hill now will pay for the additional officer because the school system pays for only one per school.

Ledford said his department has started the application process, but the hiring process could take several months. Until then, he says, Hathcock will have to manage without his police radio.

"Our department will make arrangements with the school staff to dial 911 when necessary so Officer Hathcock doesn't have to leave the scene," said Ledford. "Seconds mean a lot in a critical situation and when you have to leave the situation for any reason, things can get out of hand very quickly."