With the Newtown school shootings present in their minds, the Roseville City Council voted Wednesday, March 6 to help the Roseville Police Department hire two additional armed school police officers to protect Roseville’s high school and middle school students.
Department and Roseville Joint Union High School district officials asked the council to help fund the positions in light of the recent tragic events and budget constraints.
“In the aftermath of school shootings and tragedies in other states and communities, we’ve heard some heightened community concern about school safety,” said Dee Dee Gunther, police department spokesperson.
In the fall, the two new officers will join three full-time youth service officers reporting to Oakmont, Roseville and Woodcreek high schools. Currently, the officers also oversee Adelante High, where they maintain part-time service by working overtime.
“One of the new officers will go to Adelante continuation high school,” explained Gunther. “The other will rotate among the city's five middle schools, and help with truancy issues.”
Specifically, a new officer will serve Buljan, Cooley, Chilton, Eich and Silverado middle schools, she said.
Like in Roseville, school officials across the country have reviewed their safety measures since December when a gunman entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School grounds and killed 20 students and six adults.
With the Council’s consent, the city will allocate $320,000 from its 2013-14 general fund to the police department. The money will pay for benefits, equipment, salaries and uniforms. Of the funds, $130,000 will be spent on two new police vehicles.
The high school district, required by law to provide safety to their schools, will contribute an additional $120,000 of their school safety budget toward funding the officers.
While working to ward off potential crimes, the officers are prepared for criminal activity and do carry guns. “They’re fully equipped regular police officers with full police officer powers and training,” said Gunther.
During the meeting, Police Chief Daniel Hahn said youth service officers patrol schools while building relationships with students, staff and parents.
“(The tragedy in Conneticut) is definitely the worst case scenario that we worry about everyday...but the reality is on a daily basis, on a weekly basis, we get to those sorts of things before they ever happen,” said Hahn, adding resource officers prevent potential serious crimes involving weapons and drugs.
Hahn continued, “Or the fight that is talked about that is going to happen in the parking lot after school that never happens, because the officer and the staff at the school are able to prevent that.”
Overall, Gunther said, the police department has reduced about nine percent of its “sworn staffing” in the past few years due to budgetary concerns.
“In order to maintain essential front-line patrol staffing, we’ve reduced some specialized units, like youth services, and transferred those positions to patrol,” she said.
In 2004, the department had seven youth school officers.
The council voted 4-0 in favor of funding the new officers. Mayor Susan Rohan did not attend the meeting. Councilwoman Bonnie Gore expressed apprehension about allocating the funds while the city still incurs a $1 million structural deficit in its general fund.
Councilwoman Pauline Roccucci called for the district and the police department to continue to seek additional funding possibly from state or federal grants or other allocations.
Watch the City Council discuss the funding, vote and listen to testimonials here.
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