When the 2020-21 campaign for the Seymour R-II School District gets under way at the end of August, there will be a new school-resource officer (SRO) on duty.
It is Ray Rodriguez, a current patrolman for the Seymour Police Department, who has worked as a city officer for two different stints.
Rodriguez officially was hired as the local school’s SRO last Tuesday, July 7, in a 3-0 vote by the Seymour Board of Aldermen. (North Ward Alderman Jim Ashley was absent.)
He will begin work at the school on the first day of classes for the upcoming school year on Tuesday, Aug. 25.
He was selected for the job after interviews were conducted Monday, July 6, with four finalists. Members of the interview panel included Seymour Police Chief Steven Pogue, City Administrator Hillary Gintz, Webster County Sheriff Roye Cole, Seymour R-II Superintendent Steve Richards, Seymour R-II Board of Education President Kim Wilkins and Seymour North Ward Alderman Willam Pogue.
“I feel Ray is the best candidate for this job,” Steven Pogue told the aldermen. “He’s good with people, has a genuine rapport with children and is a known officer in our community.
“This position fits him very well. I feel he’s a natural and ultimately interviewed the best of the four candidates.”
Pogue added that Rodriguez is bilingual and speaks fluent Spanish.
“We know what we’ve got with Ray,” he added.
“And what we have is an officer who has done an excellent job with my department, who I feel will be outstanding in his capacity as the school’s SRO.”
Rodriguez, although employed during the school year at the Seymour R-II School District, remains a city employee.
Pogue will supervise the SRO, as the district earlier this year entered into a three-year contract with the city for SRO services.
During the summer when school isn’t in session, Rodriguez will work shifts as a city patrolman.
Because Rodriguez is moving to a new position with the school, a vacancy was created in the police department.
That spot will be filled by Gabe Stroud, who most recently served as a corporal for the Webster County Sheriff’s Department.
Prior to that, Stroud was a deputy for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department.
Stroud was hired last week, also in a 3-0 vote, by the city board, upon the recommendation of Pogue, who advocated Stroud’s hiring.
“To me, this is as good a hire as my department can make for a new officer,” Pogue said.
“Not only is Gabe an outstanding law-enforcement officer, he also has some administrative and supervisory experience, which will free up some of my time to handle a lot of other needs within the department.”
Stroud, with 10 years of experience in law enforcement, was hired as a patrolman II on the eighth step of the city’s salary chart.
He will start at $20.60 per hour with full benefits, including health insurance and city-paid LAGERS retirement. His full-time employment with the city starts today (Wednesday).
Seymour’s police force includes Pogue as police chief, Chase Davis as sergeant and detective, Alan Goff as corporal, Rodriguez as the SRO and Robert Lucas, Skylar McIntosh and Tyler Smith as patrolmen.
“I’m very pleased with the direction and personnel of our department,” Pogue told the aldermen.
“And I appreciate the support of (Gintz), Mayor (Richard) Vinson and the aldermen as we go forward.”