By Jackie Gorski
WARSAW — Joel Popenfoose was introduced as the new school resources officer for Leesburg, Claypool and Madison elementaries Tuesday, Oct. 10, at the Warsaw School Board meeting.
The Kosciusko County Commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding on Aug. 15 and the Kosciusko County Council approved it Aug. 10 with Warsaw Community Schools and Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation for an additional two SROs.
During the commissioners meeting Aug. 15, Sheriff Jim Smith said they’ve analyzed the total costs associated with making the increases, and after looking at the wage, retirement, benefits, insurance and the cost of a patrol vehicle — along with outfitting the vehicle – they estimated 80% portion that each school corporation would be responsible for is $110,081.97 per year. The 20% portion the county would be responsible for would be $27,521.46 per year for each deputy.
Smith said the MOU they would like to enter, which county attorney Ed Ormsby has reviewed, would be effective Oct. 1.
Popenfoose was named as the SRO for WCS and is the son of Steve and Paula Popenfoose and has been married to his wife, Jessica, for 17 years. Together, they have two sons, Hunter, a sixth-grader, and Harrison, a third-grader, according to a news release from WCS.
Popenfoose attended Harrison Elementary School, followed by Lakeview Middle School. He graduated from Warsaw Community High School in 2003. Popenfoose went to Grace College, graduating in 2007 with a dual major in criminal justice and psychology.
Within the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department, Popenfoose worked a decade to night shift patrol, the last three years of which he served as a night shift sergeant.
Tuesday, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Tracy Horrell said this was Popenfoose’s second week as a SRO.
Smith said the office was proud of Popenfoose and the fact he chose to be a SRO.
Popenfoose talked about why he chose to be a SRO.
He said he inspired by his late uncle, Joel Popenfoose; who was a teacher and coach. Popenfoose said one of his uncle’s quotes was, “Every day is a good day when you get to work with kids.” He said he has realized the meaning behind the quote.
KCSO Public Information Officer Sgt. Doug Light said KCSO was super excited for Popenfoose.
Smith said he was appreciative of the partnership KCSO had with WCS.
Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert said WCS was fortunate, especially when they talk about safety and security through KCSO. He thanked KCSO and Popenfoose.