Agreement secures Cactus Shadows school resource officer

The City of Scottsdale and Cave Creek Unified School District partnered to provide a school resource officer at Cactus Shadows High School.

The City Council, at its Aug. 28 meeting, approved on consent the school resource officer intergovernmental agreement with Cave Creek Unified School District, allowing the Scottsdale Police Department to provide a school resource officer for the 2019-20 school year.

For the past 17 years, SPD and the district have partnered to provide a school resource officer. Under the new agreement, one officer will continue to be assigned to Cactus Shadows, according to a city staff report.

The agreement describes how the officer handles calls for service on campus and works as a detective when possible; follows up on one’s own cases and other school-related cases; and helps to reduce regular detective and officer caseloads.

The school district will pay the city funds equal to half of the officer’s salary and benefits although the position is fully funded in the police department operating budget.

The district will reimburse the city funds equal to half of the officer’s total salary and benefits. The city will provide all necessary supplies and equipment. Additional staff is not required to continue the program as the police officer role is an existing budgeted position assigned to the schools.

For 2019-20, the district will pay $70,958. For each subsequent year, the funding ratio between the parties will be reevaluated and possibly adjusted, the report outlined.

At minimum, the cost sharing will be adjusted for changes based on any modifications to the budgeted salaries and fringe benefits of the officer as of Jan. 1 of each year. The city will provide the costs to the school district before Feb. 1 of each year for budget planning purposes. Either party can terminate the agreement with 30 days written notice, with or without cause, according to the report.

In the past, the district provided 80% of the salary/benefits for the assigned officer, representing the 10-month duty assignment to the school district for the officer. The district’s portion was previously provided through the Safe Schools Grant for Cactus Shadows High School. Each grant award represented a three-year funding commitment.

The district, however, was not awarded a Safe Schools grant for Cactus Shadows for the 2017-18 school year, which left the district’s portion of the agreement unfunded and having to reallocate funds to continue its partnership with the city. In 2017-18 and 2018-19, the district only obtained funding for half of the salary/benefits for the officer assigned to Cactus Shadows.

In efforts to maintain the partnership, the city and school district sought ways to return to the traditional 80/20 funding split so SPD staff reviewed the agreement and supports the commitment of maintaining the SRO program and safe schools within the community, the report detailed.

The nationwide program is designed to provide law enforcement services and law enforcement-related education to schools while officers have been noted to serve as positive role models for young people, act as a liaisons between the police, the school, the community and numerous community service organizations.

They also provide traditional police services on school property and take appropriate enforcement action in addition to providing numerous hours of service to the community, according to the report.

Independent Newsmedia News Services Specialist Delarita Ford can be reached by e-mail at dford@newszap.com.

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