Since 1995, school resource officers have been patrolling Clinton school building halls, mentoring students, conducting investigations and taking care of truancy matters.

After recent votes by both the Clinton School Board and the Clinton City Council, that program will continue for at least three years as the result of grant funding and an agreement to split the remaining costs between the city and the school district.

With this recent agreement in place, it is assured the SRO program will remain in effect until mid-2010. We are glad to see that happen.

Over the years, there have been many cases of truancy mediation, basically a process that can end up in the court system to make sure students are attending school on a regular basis. This obviously benefits students in the long run — that goes without saying. SROs also benefit students when it comes to school safety issues. We’d be ducking our heads in the sand if we said that an incident of school violence can’t or won’t happen in Clinton. Having school resource officers in the buildings can help identify where problems may arise, potentially diffuse a situation and, at the very least, provide quick reaction on the part of the police since they are in the buildings.

Even with all of these benefits, it wasn’t so easy getting officers into the schools.

We can remember back to the early 1990s when there were discussions about putting officers there. Many people didn’t like the idea. But after grant money came through, it was decided by city and district officials to proceed.

Along the way, most notably in 1999, there have been tense moments waiting to see if grant money and city and school district budgets would be able to bear the costs. That is reflected in the number of officers who were assigned to the program: It started with two officers, then increased to four and is now settled at three.

We are glad to see the school district and city have continued their commitment to this program by seeking grants and working to share the expense load for the benefit of Clinton’s students.