In the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, Los Alamitos school district officials want to put police officers back on campus.
The Los Alamitos Unified School District is seeking support from local cities to help pay for two armed school resource officers for the schools, said Karen Russell, a district board member Monday. A school resource officer is a law enforcement official assigned to a school or number of schools. Los Alamitos had one before budget cuts claimed the position.
“We would like to ask you to have your staff have discussions with our Superintendent about how much support, if any, you might be willing to give on this issue," Russell said to the Seal Beach City Council.
According to Russell, district officials would like to have one officer stationed at Los Alamitos High School and another officer who would be "roving," moving from school to school as needed. The district originally had a school resource officer at Los Alamitos High School, which was funded by the city of Los Alamitos. When the recession hit, “that spot was eliminated.”
“We have been without an SRO at Los Alamitos High School for about three or four years now," Russell said.
According to Russell, the idea gained support at the District’s Violence Prevention Task Force, which also suggested additional fencing, security cameras, and security guards to help protect children.
Russell told the council that, even though there is only one district school in Seal Beach – McGaugh Elementary -- about a one-third of the students in the district are from the city.
Russell said one of the reason the issue had become more urgent was the Sandy Hook massacre, and, closer to home, the Salon Meritage shooting.
“After Sandy Hook … things have changed a little bit in terms of our focus, but always in the forefront of our minds was what happened to us on Oct. 12, 2011,” Russell said. “What if Scott Dekraai had made it to McGaugh school to pick up his son? Fortunately, school was out at that time, but we will never know.”
In a brief interview after her comments, Russell said nothing has been set in stone, but school officials are also seeking support from the Rossmoor Community Services District and the city of Los Alamitos to help fund the two positions. The district would help pay, too, she said.
Mayor Pro Tem Ellery Deaton said that she’d like to work with the district to consider a way to fund the officers.
“As a former teacher, children‘s and teachers’ safety is very important, and I want to thank you, Karen, for coming to talk about it,” Deaton said. “I would very much like to, with the council members’ permission, ask the city manager to collaborate with the superintendent, start the dialogue.”
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