Glendale’s costs for its police officers stationed in public high schools, called school resource officers, could soon go down.
In the last fiscal year, the city paid about $950,000 for the program while its schools districts contributed $434,000.
Glendale expanded the program from four of its public high schools to all nine in March of last year, responding to the shooting the month before at a high school in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people, mostly students.
Cactus, Copper Canyon, Ironwood and Raymond S. Kellis high schools already had school resource officers prior to last year. Mountain Ridge, Deer Valley, Apollo, Independence, and Glendale high schools had the officers added last year.
During a Council meeting on the new funding opportunities, Cholla District Councilwoman Lauren Tolmachoff asked Glendale police Commander Colby Brandt, who oversees the school resource officers, if the program had been successful in its first year.
“If you’re asking for my opinion, I would say it’s absolutely been a success,” he said. “And I base that off of a lot of the feedback I’ve seen from schools and from parents.”
The officers participate in various awareness training programs on campus such as vaping, alcohol and drug use, dangers of social media, and distracted driving. They also been through “Threat Liaison Officer” training and help the school administrations with security planning.
Several on Council voiced support for the program, some mentioning the benefit of students, especially those who might fear law enforcement, interacting with and getting to know a police officer on their campus.
“What is the general public conception is ‘Firefighters are your friends—they come to save you—but police officers are not, because they’re coming to get you,” said Vice Mayor Joyce Clark of the Yucca District. “And I think that by having positive role models at these various high schools, we’re introducing kids to the fact that there is a place for police in the community and that they can do positive things to help these kids.”
Last year, for three of four school districts in the city — Deer Valley Unified High School District, Glendale Union High School District and Peoria Unified High School District — Glendale paid for 75% of the school resource officer program and the district paid 25%. Tolleson Union High School District, which already had an officer stationed at Copper Canyon High, already has grant funding in place. The grant covers 88% of the program and Glendale covers the remaining 12%.
Tolleson Union is reapplying for the grant and Glendale Union is newly applying for the grant. If both schools were awarded the grant, it would continue to reduce the city’s costs for Copper Canyon High and considerably reduce its costs for three Glendale Union schools in the city: Apollo, Independence and Glendale highs.
While Peoria Unified is not seeking grant funding for school resource officers, it is seeking grant funding for social workers for its K-8 schools.