As a youngster growing up in inner-city Louisville, Clark Arnold learned to look up to law enforcement. Now he has a chance to help develop that same respect for police officers among today’s school-age children.
Arnold started this week his new job working for the Warren County Sheriff’s Office as school resource officer supervisor for Warren County Public Schools, a job that he believes he has spent years preparing for.
“Since I was in preschool I wanted to be a police officer,” said Arnold, who retired in 2013 after 21 years with the Bowling Green Police Department and continues to serve in the U.S. Army Reserves. “Law enforcement officers were in our neighborhood a lot, doing good things.”
In his new job, Arnold will oversee the work of the 10 school resource officers who are already in Warren County schools and make sure that the school system complies with the mandates of school safety legislation passed by the Kentucky General Assembly last year.
“It’s a dual-hat position,” said Arnold, who was an assistant police chief with the BGPD. “It gives the sheriff another more direct line of supervision of the SROs while at the same time fulfilling the safety obligations of the state legislation.”
Senate Bill 1, or the School Safety and Resiliency Act, calls for boosting safety and prevention training, requiring superintendents to appoint a school safety coordinator, encouraging collaboration with law enforcement and hiring more counselors and school resource officers.
Fueled by a 2018 property tax hike, the Warren County school system has beefed up its SRO staff and now has an officer in each high school and middle school along with one who serves alternative schools and one “floater” who visits elementary schools.
Warren County Public Schools Superintendent Rob Clayton said Arnold is a welcome addition to the WCPS administrative offices on Lovers Lane.
“Clark has extensive experience in the military and in law enforcement,” Clayton said. “Bringing him on board will give us the opportunity to have someone here who is an active member of the sheriff’s office and give us the ability to respond quickly to events.”
Arnold, 55, joined the U.S. Army in 1984 and most recently was command sergeant major for the Army Reserves 377th Theater Sustainment Command. In his new role, he will supervise those 10 SROs from his Lovers Lane office.
He is filling a role that had been held by retired police officer Jay Wilson, who served as WCPS director of school safety and energy manager before retiring at the end of July.
Warren County Sheriff Brett Hightower sees advantages in having a sheriff’s office employee in the role of SRO supervisor.
“He (Arnold) will have a direct line of communication with Warren County Public Schools administration and with the sheriff’s office,” Hightower said. “It’s another opportunity for us to build relationships with the schools and students.
“I believe we’ve seen huge benefits from having SROs in the schools. I see it as a sustainable program.”
Likewise, Clayton sees the increased safety measures as a long-term investment.
“We would not be adding this position if we weren’t confident that it’s one we can sustain,” he said. “The partnership with the sheriff’s office makes this possible. I’m pleased that Sheriff Hightower found the very best fit for this position.”
Arnold aims to build on the well-established SRO program, which he sees as a great opportunity to serve the community.
“When Sheriff Hightower offered me this opportunity, I couldn’t pass it up,” Arnold said. “I believe I was put here to make a difference. The military and law enforcement have given me the opportunity to do that.”
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