DOWNEY — An agreement between the Downey Unified School District and the Downey Police Department for a special team of officers to patrol district schools was unanimously approved by board members Monday.
The agreement, which will go into effect Oct. 1, calls for 900 hours of police patrol services that are not "encompassed within the usual and regular policing activities" at Downey-area schools. Although district schools do not have a high incidence of vandalism or burglaries, the district wanted the added patrol as a preventive security measure, Supt. Manuel Gallegos said.
The program will cost the district $20,000 for nine months.
Downey police chief Bill Martin said five police officers from existing personnel will be assigned to special enforcement problems, including the patrol of schools. But the team will not be in place by the beginning of October because the department is still in the process of replacing the officers who will be assigned to the team. Until the team is formed, the department will use its regular field patrol to beef up school security.
The new program will augment the regular level of service the department already provides. Extra services will include increased patrol, security work and long-term surveillance in locations where there might be a particular problem, such as a rash of auto thefts or burglaries.
Since the team will operate separately under a different division commander, it allows flexibility and puts manpower in areas where there are recurring problems. That way, Martin said, regular police patrols on established beats will continue uninterrupted.
Agreements like this are not common, but the department provides similar services for the Stonewood Shopping Center in Downey and for football games and dances at high schools on an as-needed basis, Martin said.
First Such Agreement
Gallegos said this is the first time the district has worked out an agreement with police to provide security services. The board decided to contract with police after considering different ways of obtaining security for the schools.
"This is an excellent way to go," he said. "We want to make sure we have good security at the schools."
At present, the district employs two persons who only work on weekends. Their main job is to open the gates at high schools -- used for sports and recreational activities -- and to provide limited patrol at all 20 schools in the district, Gallegos said. However, they do not have the authority to make arrests. "They really cannot be as effective as police," he said, adding they will not be affected by the agreement.
In the last five years, there have been 2,321 incidents of vandalism at a cost of $827,809 to the district. But one incident alone--a major fire in February, 1982, that was deliberately set at Warren High School--ran up a tab of $610,820.
Gallegos said the beefed-up patrol would complement an alarm system at all schools to keep vandalism down. "All these things have worked to an advantage. This is just one more step to help the schools," he said.