Grant to fund officers for every Modesto high school

naustin@modbee.comSeptember 19, 2013 

NAN AUSTIN — naustin@modbee.com

— The $1 million grant awarded this week to the Modesto Police Department will fund eight new school resource officers, enough for every large Modesto high school and the Elliott alternative campus to have a full-time presence.

Modesto City Schools wrote the grant with the MPD and will help fund the $1.9 million match required by the three-year program funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

“MPD initiated the grant and we collaborated on it with them,” Superintendent Pam Able said. “As of right now, we are waiting to hear from the City Council and Police Department on next steps.”

School grant writer Karen Servas said the COPS grant starts Oct. 1, but the City Council must approve the program, and both agencies must work out the details of paying the match.

Modesto City Schools pays the Police Department $448,000 a year for four specially trained school resource officers, who cover the district’s seven high schools, the continuation campus and four junior highs. However, the grant specifies the money must be used to hire new officers, making the four already in place ineligible, Servas said.

The district could use its contracted amount as a portion of its match, returning the four veterans now at schools to street duty, or decide to use other funds or reserves to have all 12 officers available to its 34 school sites.

School resource officers handle incidents, but also work to head off budding problems, give community and school safety programs, and “expose students to the positive aspects of police presence,” Servas said.

Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at naustin@modbee.com or (209) 578-2339. Follow her on Twitter @NanAustin.

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