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Informed Opinions on Today's Topics : Paying the High Price to Police Schools


As part of a plan to reduce violence at city schools, the Los Angeles Unified School District proposed hiring 22 additional campus police officers and 300 campus security aides at a school safety hearing Monday. The extra security personnel--tagged at a cost of $3.5 million a year--would supplement the district's 295-member force and would place an officer at each high school and middle school campus. The recommendation comes in the wake of fatal shootings at Reseda and Fairfax high schools last year and the death of a Cleveland High School student shot while walking home.


Should the LAUSD spend $3.5 million to hire additional security officers for its campuses?

Victoria Castro, chairwoman of the Los Angeles school board's School Safety Committee:

"I do believe every secondary school needs a police officer. Every student has a right to a safe and clean school. My concern is that this is $25 million total for our school police. I think the Legislature needs to fund that above classroom dollars. . . . It's essential. In this day and age, you need a police officer just to take care of daily, routine things. I was very supportive of putting them in uniform. It is a deterrent."

Robert Kladifko, principal of Reseda High School, where a student was shot and killed last year:

"We're thrilled by it. What we've done to try to give us campus aides is we have parent volunteers. But many of them work and can't come to campus. With funds the way they are, we just can't get more adults to the campus to help us supervise. . . . Just the fact that you have a uniformed officer on campus is a deterrent. The No. 1 issue for the Legislature and for us is to try to keep our campuses safe and secure."

Mark Slavkin, Los Angeles school board member who organized the Emergency Task Force on Youth Violence following the two high school shootings:

"For those campuses (currently without police officers), it makes a big difference. It provides a greater sense of security for the students, teachers and parents. It doesn't make all the problems go away, but it's an important step forward. . . . In a community where the LAPD is too limited in its resources, it's essential. The law enforcement response is very important, but the other critical piece is to help the kids in our schools. Police alone and metal detectors alone are not going to change the conditions under which kids grow up."

Bill Rivera, assistant to Supt. Sid Thompson, who proposed the increase in school security:

"It will improve the conditions of safety at the individual school campuses. The additional police officers could (allow the district to place) one officer at each of the district's senior and middle schools. . . . The aides will provide a large number of personnel who will be providing a patrol for the school. We do believe that there will be a significant improvement in school safety."

Mike Bennett, principal of Parkman Middle School in Woodland Hills, which does not have an officer assigned to the campus:

"It would be a good idea. It would be an extra pair of eyes (on campus). . . . In most cases, the problems really come from outsiders. If they see someone in a uniform, they're not about to do some of the stuff they could do. . . . Schools have the same problems as everybody else. I think we do a fairly good job considering the limits on our time. The more adults the kids see on campus, the less likely they are to do nonsense. . . . The kids want 'em, the parents want 'em, the staff wants 'em."

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