Kennewick taking applications for 18 armed elementary school safety officers

School Resource Officer Richard Sanders, with the Kennewick Police Department, talks with students outside Park Middle School in Kennewick in 2022. (Bob Brawdy/

Kennewick schools are now accepting applications to hire retired cops who will serve as safety officers in elementary schools.

The Kennewick School District plans to hire 18 armed, limited commission safety officers as part of a levy proposal voters approved last month that would place them on every elementary school campus and at Legacy and Phoenix alternative high schools.

Superintendent Traci Pierce said at Wednesday’s school board meeting that they will begin hiring them this spring in anticipation of students returning to school in the fall.

“School safety continues to be top priority for Kennewick School District and our community,” said Robyn Chastain, the district’s executive director of public relations, in an emailed statement.

Pay is set at $22 an hour and officers will work 180 days a year. Health, dental, vision and other benefits are also included.

The job description says a limited commission officer will be:

  • Responsible for helping to ensure a safe and secure school environment for students, staff and visitors at the assigned school campus.

  • Highly visible in the parking lots, crosswalks, hallways, cafeterias, playgrounds and school grounds. Daily functions include patrolling of the school campus, parking lots, school facilities and grounds and interacting positively with students, staff, families and visitors.

  • Monitors campus security systems, aids in school safety drills and provides the first response to intrusions or threats to school safety, working in conjunction with Kennewick Police Department and school administrators.

Officers are required to work the entire school year and must have had previous commissioned police officer experience.

They must also pass an extensive background check, psychological and polygraph exams, and firearms and active shooter training.

The annual $1 million in funding for these positions was included in Kennewick School District’s Feb. 14 levy measure, which voters passed with nearly 56% support.

The three-year levy also included $255,000 in funding for three new school resource officers in Chinook, Desert Hills and Horse Heaven Hills middle schools.

School resource officers are fully-commissioned police officers who can make arrests and issue fines, although the focus is mostly to educate and keep students out of the criminal justice system.

The limited commission officers would work more like security guards to respond to any security threats, though would be restricted in their capacity.

The idea to create these positions came in the wake of the 2022 Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas.