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City Council Will Fund Armed Officer at Los Al HIgh

Los Alamitos officials voted to pay about 50 percent of the costs of adding a school resource officer to the campus.

Los Alamitos High School students may soon get their own police officer. 

The Los Alamitos City Council voted Tuesday night to fund about half the cost of a school resource officer position at the local high school.

A school resource officer is a law enforcement official assigned to a school or number of schools. Los Alamitos High School had one before budget cuts claimed the position.

The moves comes as Los Alamitos Unified School District officials look for ways to increase safety in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead in Newtown, Conn.

With a 4-0 vote, officials agreed to spend $95,000 of an estimated $190,000 annual cost for salary, benefits, training and equipment of the officer.

Mayor Warren Kusumoto supported the move.

"You can't stop one crazy person, but let's do what we can do,” Kusumoto said. “I'd like to see this proceed with some kind of commitment. Maybe the county kicks in some (money), but my overall support is there."

"I'm not opposed to the program, but there's mixed feelings among the public that this is just an emotional  response to a bigger issue that exists within society,” said Councilman Dean Grose,  “Putting officers in uniforms (on campus) isn't necessarily going to prevent what happened at Sandy Hook or in Colorado and so many other places.”

As it stands, city staff hope Seal Beach would pay 25 percent of the cost of the position, the district would pay 25 percent and Los Al City Council will assume about 50 percent of the costs.

"What we're asking for is a commitment so (the Police) Chief can continue the recruitment process,” said City Manager Angie Avery to the City Council.

City staff are seeking additional funding from the county, but Avery said she was concerned that if funding came from four separate sources than Los Al could lose its supervisory role over the position.

Avery has said she thinks the officer could start work by the new school year in September, but Grose said he thought that wasn’t a realistic time frame, and the Chief agreed, saying it would be difficult to have an officer in place by that time.

In January, school district officials came to the city asking for help to fund a school resources officer position.

According to Los Alamitos Police Department Chief Todd Mattern, the presence of an SRO at Los Alamitos High School, where 3,200 students are enrolled, would provide police with the ability to tend to other needs during the day. Mattern said the schools population is relatively large and attracts frequent calls for traffic issues, criminal issues, parking and disturbances.

Mattern said, in the four or five years the SRO was present on campus, the program was effective. In response, Grose asked Mattern to return next meeting with data showing how many calls the department receives from the school daily, as well as more information on the original SRO program.

Mayor Pro Tem Gerri Graham Mejia was absent.

met00 February 21, 2013 at 06:25 AM
Los Alamitos has a resident population of about 10,000. During the day we have an increase in population based on 2/3 of the students at the HS and jrHS are from our neighbor cities. When someone comes into the City of Los Alamitos the police don't say "you don't live here so you will get less service from us." Yet for the most part their "spending" in the city doesn't come close to offsetting the costs that these additional people generate in service spending. In short, Los Al spends much more than they get in by providing services to these transients. The raw fact is that with just one of the LAUSD schools in Seal Beach, that community shares almost none of the service costs associated with the students that Rossmoor and Los Al bear. If we assume that each student bears a per head service cost to the city while attending school there, the cities bear costs in the order of Los Al, Rossmoor and then Seal Beach. While I agree that there could be loss of control by each city picking up their fair share of the service cost for the officer, it would seem that a proportional cost basis for the officer would be the "right" thing for each community to do rather than throwing the load unfairly onto Los Al. A $60.00 per student SRO fee collected by the district and paid under contract to Los Al would cover the costs and do it equitably.
enea ostrich February 21, 2013 at 06:22 PM
Who asked anyone that they WANT an officer on campus? No residents would pay for that just like they wouldn't pay for a teacher SINCE ITS ALREADY paid by the state since it's a necessity. The government has been hashing this out and I guess Los Al Council wants to ACT like they are the state reps instead of what they are - CITY COUNCIL. By the way, one long cop would not stop a madman...check out what happened to Reagan and you will see that several secret service were there---did it help him??? NO!! Paying 95 grand, go ahead...I wouldn't help pay for that NO!!!
Thor's Hammer February 21, 2013 at 09:39 PM
One lone officer on campus will not likely "prevent" a shooting. But he or she may be able to stop one in progress and contain the damage. He or she may also be enough of a deterrent that a gunman may choose a different target venue. Columbine, Connetticut, Colorado movie theatre, Ft. Hood......all gun free zones. No resistance for crazy gunmen to consider. We defend our President with guns. We defend our Congressmen with guns. We defend our Governors with guns. We defend our celebrities with guns. We defend our sporting events with guns. We defend our jewelry stores with guns. We defend our banks with guns. We defend our borders with guns. We defend our courts with guns. We defend our children at our schools with..........a sign that reads "This is a gun free zone." and then we call someone with a gun if there's an emergency. As for who should be paying for it, I would really have no problem taking all that fiscal aid we send to Pakistan to fund officers at ALL of our schools.

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