By JOSH NEWTON
It’s been about 12 years since Tahlequah’s school resource officers received the white Ford Explorers they’ve since been driving to and fro.
Those Fords were regular “civilian vehicles,” and they were later equipped with police lights, markings and other needed features. But with the number of miles SROs log each year, the vehicles had suffered a great deal of wear and tear.
All four of the Tahlequah Public Schools’ SROs – Brian Stanglin, Bryan Swim, Marcus Sams and Randy Jordan – are now driving 2013 Ford Explorer Police Interceptors, which are manufactured specifically for police use. Officers officially received keys to their new vehicles this week.
TPS Superintendent Lisa Presley said the old white Explorers broke down often.
“So these new cars were way overdue,” she said.
District officials also wanted to offer the vehicles to the SROs as a sign of gratitude, and as a way to maintain them as a part of the district.
“They are such a valuable resource to us,” said Presley. “Three of our SROs are city employees, and we pay part of two salaries; and Marcus is a county employee. So we feel like this is our contribution to maintaining this resource.”
TPS Executive Director of Technology and Operations Terry Garrett said the district paid about $124,000 for the four Explorers, and additional funds were spent to have the vehicles outfitted with light bars, markings, and other equipment.
“They are on the road quite a lot,” said Presley. “When they are called and its an emergency, these new vehicles ensure their response times. And they are transporting children some of the time, and we want the students and the officers to be safe.”
Jordan said he appreciates having a new vehicle to get back and forth to the district’s four elementary schools, which he oversees. He’s already outfitted his new car with police gear, which is at least partly covered by stuffed animals for children.
Swim said the Explorers are equipped with radars, which will allow the SROs to use any spare time they might find to work school zones and crack down on speeders.
“It’s nice to have dependable transportation,” said Sams. “These are fully equipped, like the rest of the normal police department patrol units.
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