As part of the switch to community-oriented policing, special campus police officers will be stationed at the city's six high schools starting in September.
Although full-time, plainclothes police officers have been stationed at high schools since 1977, budget cuts and staff reductions have made continued deployment of those officers impractical.
Instead the Police Department will hire six people as uniformed "special officers" for the high schools, said Capt. David Abrecht in a report to the Garden Grove Unified School District Board of Trustees this week.
The campus officers will have authority roughly matching that of a park ranger. They will be able to detain suspects and make arrests, but decisions in the field will be subject to approval by a supervisor.
During the 1992-93 fiscal year, the Police Department lost 10 officers to budget cuts. To help make up for that loss, department officials have decided to leave two management positions unfilled and shift full-time officers who formerly were stationed at the high schools to community patrols.
By filling the campus positions with the lower-paid special officers, the department can free up full-time officers for patrols while still maintaining a presence at the schools.
The campus officers will be hired from a pool of the city's former and reserve police officers. They will be paid about 30% less than regular, full-time officers.
Each district high school within the city--Bolsa Grande, Santiago, Garden Grove, Lake, Rancho Alamitos and Pacifica--will have one special officer there throughout the day, Abrecht said.
Those officers will wear modified uniforms with the word "police" emblazoned on the shirts. The intent is to make the officers more visible and thus more likely to deter crime in a way that the plainclothes officers might not have.
Having an officer on campus, Abrecht emphasized, is a preventive measure and "is in no way an indication that we see the campuses as unsafe."
"We think that compared to other campuses in the area, we've had remarkably good success in keeping our campuses free of violence," he said.
The campus security program is part of the Police Department's community-oriented policing strategy that requires officers to become more familiar with the people in the neighborhoods they patrol.