Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Crime is on the rise at San Diego public schools at a time when the school district’s police force might be shrinking.
SAN DIEGO Crime is on the rise at San Diego public schools at a time when the school district’s police force might be shrinking.
San Diego City Schools is one of 16 school districts in California that has its own police department. The officers serve as the eyes and ears at local campuses. But over the past four years, the district’s police budget has been slashed by 45 percent.
School Police Chief Don Braun says fewer officers have translated into a higher crime rate at San Diego schools. “Violent crime in schools has risen 31 percent. Property crime has risen 12 percent. Weapons violations (have gone up) almost 8 percent.” he said.
School police say more and more students are using deadly weapons in fights or assaults. They say it will get even worse under a new plan.
The San Diego Unified Board of Education might eliminate the school district’s police department. San Diego Unified is facing a roughly $140 million state budget shortfall.
San Diego principals are rallying together to protect campus police.
Lincoln High School principal Mel Collins says drugs, violence and gang activity are constant threats at his school. If fact, five officers are on his speed dial.
“I have kept close personal contact with them. Every time I call, they show up. They’re always there,” Collins said.
The district’s Bernie Rhinerson says the school trustees realize police services is important, but it is an option they have to consider.
“This is part of a process the board is going through to make their decisions about next year's budget. They have to submit a balanced budget by Dec. 15 to the County Office of Education.”
The district’s police chief says San Diego Unified will have to outsource its police services if the cuts are approved. That could result in a loss of public safety grant money.