“We were actually pleasantly surprised when we received the grant award notice,” Whetsel said. His office was one of 144 agencies nationwide, and two in Oklahoma, to win the grant. The Weleetka Police Department also received a grant.
In addition to St. Elizabeth's, Oklahoma County sheriff's spokesman Mark Myers said deputies were assigned to Casady School in Oklahoma City, Deer Creek School District and the Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center. Deer Creek's three new deputies bring the total to five of Whetsel's deputies working at that campus.
PTO plays role
For the first three years of the grant, the government will pay three-fourths or about $27,000 of Locklear's salary. The St. Elizabeth's PTO, through fundraisers held during the year, will pay the other $9,000, Keenan said. On the fourth year of the program, the school picks up 100 percent of the salary. The PTO will meet next spring and discuss additional ways to raise money for the program.
At St. Elizabeth's, Howard sees Locklear as not only extra security but almost an additional faculty member. The deputy can teach bicycle safety and offer other types of safety instruction. He's with the children on the playground and he's also there when the students attend Mass at St. John's.
Whetsel welcomes the grant and the extra law enforcement at schools.
“The bottom line for me is that six new deputies have begun working within schools protecting our children,” he said.
The sheriff's office now provides deputies to 28 schools.