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School resource program makes a difference
A decline in juvenile cases and arrests can be attributed to the Elkhart County Sheriff's Department school resource officer program.

In partnership with the four districts within ECSD's primary jurisdiction, the department makes one officer available at all times within the school system. These officers go into the classroom to teach the importance of following the law, get to know students one-on-one to establish good community relations, and investigate incidents occurring on school grounds.

The school resource officers are:
• Concord Community Schools — Patrolman Rich Matteson;
• Baugo Community Schools — Patrolman Dustin Sahlhoff;
• Fairfield Community Schools — Patrolman Daphne Coy; and
• Middlebury Community Schools — Patrolman Jeremy Shotts.

When the 2010-11 school year began in September, the department had been averaging nearly 53 arrests per month of individuals under the age of 18. For the final four months of the year, though, with the SRO program fully staffed, the number dropped to an average of about five arrests per month. Criminal mischief, vandalism and other types of minor crime decreased, as well.

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