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Archive for Friday, August 17, 2012

Fewer police in city’s schools, more on patrol

August 17, 2012

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School resource officer Mike Cobb, right, watches over the cafeteria Friday at Lawrence High School. This year, the Lawrence Police Department has reduced its number of school resource officers from six to four to increase the number of patrol officers.

School resource officer Mike Cobb, right, watches over the cafeteria Friday at Lawrence High School. This year, the Lawrence Police Department has reduced its number of school resource officers from six to four to increase the number of patrol officers.

Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib says the department in recent years has been trying to juggle too many things.

He’s working on a plan to get back more to the basics as he moves some officers with specialty assignments back to patrolling the streets. That includes two school resource officers and three traffic unit officers.

“Having a well-trained, well-equipped and well-resourced patrol response is critical for the health and safety of the community because no matter what’s occurring at any given moment, patrol is the first to respond to it,” said Khatib, who has said since he took over as chief in February 2011 that the department needs more officers.

City leaders agreed to add four officer positions this year and three more as part of the 2013 budget. By the end of the year Khatib also plans to shift officers from other areas of the department back into patrol assignments.

The department has reduced its school resource officers from six to four, and in December Khatib plans to fold the department’s traffic unit, which has three positions, back into patrol as well.

He wants to see how the plan works.

“We’re going to do the best we possibly can to make patrol, that initial response and that core service that everybody interacts with, the best possible given what we have,” he said.

School, traffic officer changes

As classes started this week, two police officers now are assigned to each of the city’s two public high schools as school resource officers. Those same four officers also have an additional assignment to cover one middle school each. Before, the department assigned one resource officer to each high school and middle school as part of the city-funded program.

Khatib did not replace two officers whose school assignments recently ended, and they have returned to patrol.

“It’s fair to say that we’re disappointed that we reduced the number of school resource officers. We find them to be very valuable in our schools,” said Lawrence Superintendent Rick Doll, who acknowledged police communicated with the district about the change. “But I also understand the economic realities of trying to staff an entire city’s police department.”

Doll said part of the change, having two officers in each high school, could be positive. The high schools grew by several hundred students when the district recently added ninth-graders to the buildings. School resource officers take police reports for incidents in the schools, but they also teach classes and offer students an opportunity to have positive interactions with officers.

The superintendent said the program has been successful. Lawrence recently received the school district of the year award from the Kansas Juvenile Officers Association for its collaboration with the department, and Officer Myrone Grady received the 2011 Kansas School Resource Officer of the Year award for his work at South Middle School. Grady will still cover South, and his office will now be at Lawrence High School.

The core functions of the department’s traffic unit also will be covered because the three officers can still be deployed to help investigate and map serious accidents.

Patrol officers will take on other functions, such as running radar guns, and the department will continue special saturation patrols when state funds are available for overtime, Khatib said.

Experiment

The restructuring could allow for assignments when calls are busiest. For instance, Khatib said the department could more easily deploy extra officers early on Saturdays and Sundays to try to stop drunken drivers or other crimes. Or a team of officers could focus on specific problems, such as a recent string of aggravated burglaries.

“It may allow us to be more proactive,” Khatib said.

The department in 1999 had 80 positions assigned to patrol, and by 2011 that had reduced by one, mainly because any staffing additions came in other areas, including detectives, school resource officers, neighborhood resource officers, traffic and other support positions.

“All of our staff shortages have been historically manifested at the patrol level,” Khatib said. “We have kept filling special assignment slots at the expense of patrol operations.”

With increases the last two city budgets and Khatib’s reorganization plan, the department by December would be at 91 patrol positions. Obviously, vacancies exist in some positions because of retirements, medical leave and other reasons.

In his advocacy for more resources, he has said the ideal situation would be 96 patrol positions. Khatib has also asked for more resources for the specialized positions, and he’s hopeful for the future.

“We have to get back to the basics of doing the basic patrol function as best as possible,” Khatib said, “and then build upon that solid base.”

Comments

Bladerunner 1 year, 8 months ago

Its my understanding the school district promised to fund the salaries of Officers in their schools years ago but has never been able to work it into their budgets.

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FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 8 months ago

According to Pitts, there will be fewer "death of Blacks" if their are fewer Police, government peeps, in the government institutions.

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Paula Kissinger 1 year, 8 months ago

They are not needed in the schools...they do nothing there. Never have. Need to crank the WRAP program back up...more beneficial.

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begin60 1 year, 8 months ago

Most likely the presence of officers in the Lawrence Public Schools, especially given the questionable competence and ethics of local law enforcement, just feeds into the unjust school-to-prison pipeline.

Go down to the Douglas County Courthouse and you will be hard put not to conclude that residents are chosen out for legal scapegoating on the basis of illegal and protected characteristics. The local police like everyone else in Lawrence are highly but possibly unconsciously prejudiced and discriminatory.

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smitty 1 year, 8 months ago

The inability to find information in the archives is not a new phenonium. The software of the JW filters the information available to the public thru their archives which approaches to censorship.

There have been or are two SROs recently that had DUIs, served desk time and reassigned to the SRO. Educate yourself or read and remember ..... those situations have been pointed out before.

In today's photos of the SRO, the drunken ones have been reassigned....however.....

Bialek was named in Carrie Neighgors civil suit...that has been posted before shpuld you continue to question it I can repost Bialeks part in that still pending civil suit. Then there is Scott...wasn't she recently in legal hot water and got assigned to the SRO? Apparently the SROs present the example of don't do what I did, do as I say.

Your comment is a strong example of why the corruption information must be repeated and repeated. You have validated why the cut and paste of past articles are needed even though criticised by our forum bullies. Takes a long time to correct systemic corruption. Takes a few whistle blowers along the way to shake out the dirt, too.

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Lawrenceks 1 year, 8 months ago

Searching the LJWorld I did not find any LPD SRO had been arrested for DUI! So where did that come from Smitty? Same place as all your Yellow House stuff came from? Made up???

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irvan moore 1 year, 8 months ago

i don't think we need police in schools, i think the schools should throw out students who engage in criminal behavior instead of letting them terrorize other kids

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Isabelle 1 year, 8 months ago

We need more officers in the schools. Especially the middle schools...heard some bad stuff going on there from other parents...

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KISS 1 year, 8 months ago

Shocking! Shocking, I say, that Smitty and LarryNaive are the first two to post in here. I did not read their anti-LPD spewing crap, but I'd be willing to bet a large sum of money that Smitty mentions the YH at least 3 times and LN mentions bar checks at least twice. Am I the only one that suspects they sit around on their computers all day, everyday, just waiting for a story about the PD, having their ignorant propaganda ready to go in copy/paste form so they can be the first to post?

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Fins 1 year, 8 months ago

"Khatib should be held criminally responsible", really Larry? Seems to me you are part of the problem here. Quit expecting the police to raise your kids for you and take an active role in your own children's lives so the rest of society doesn't have to raise your kids for you. It's your kind of thinking that has made juvenile issues such a mess. Nobody wants to be a parent anymore but they are quick to blame others when their child gets in trouble or goes the wrong direction in life. Maybe you shouldn't spend so much time at your bar hoping the cops don't come in to bust the underage drinkers you let in to increase your revenue and spend more time raising your kids. I don't recall the last time someone got killed or raped because they went to school but I'm fairly certain drunk kids have killed people in car accidents and several drunk and underage college girls have been raped by people they met in bars. Maybe the police will stop your kid from drinking in the bars underage and prevent them from becoming a victim of sexual assault or stop them from driving drunk. Maybe you should try doing the same.

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Stacy Napier 1 year, 8 months ago

Yea that's what I want my police officer to be trained with all the other small town cowpoke police dept's and the little training they get. Really??? I'll pass.

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Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 8 months ago

"deploy extra officers early on Saturdays and Sundays to try to stop drunken drivers or other crimes" My opinion is that this is the police chief trying to bully the city to increase his staff. Making our schools less safe so the LPD can do more more bar checks is a scare tactic, unethical and wrong. The chief is basically saying that he is willing to put a child's safety at risk if he does not get his way. Fire his a**! LPD spends most evenings walking through bars looking for minors drinking. By LPD's own stats, over 300 bar checks are recorded a year by the current under manned staff. So the chief wants to make our already drug filled schools less safe so he can catch more 20 year olds drinking in bars??? Is this really what's best for community?
I would rather see our children kept safe in school and cut the bar checks in half and put those officers on the street for DUI's. What I believe will happen with the extra staff is bar checks will go to 400 and DUI stops will not increase is proportion to the officers added.
If we have a terrible incident at a middle school, Khatib should be held criminally responsible.

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smitty 1 year, 8 months ago

...The department has reduced its school resource officers from six to four, and in December Khatib plans to fold the department’s traffic unit, which has three positions, back into patrol as well....

Wasn't the traffic unit the recipient of a federal grant that funded these officers? Has the grant has expired and not been renewed??

Now that the traffic unit has stopped the record high ticket activity in the 2000 block of Mass south of the YH and no longer doing professional courtesies for the KU athletic tickets, sure shook loose quite a few officers. Now the 500 hour, Olin created, in-house training needs to be shifted to the state training in Hutch. That too, will free up many officer hours.

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