The formalities are done and now it’s a matter of finding the right fit for Sequim’s new school resource officer.
The Sequim City Council amended its budget on Jan. 27 to increase the city’s police officers from 18 to 19 after both the city and Sequim School District finalized an agreement to share the costs of the position in late 2013.
Sequim Police Chief Bill Dickinson said their options for a new hire are to find a lateral officer in the field or enter the hiring process, which they’ve already started for other previous hires.
He said finding an existing officer would save the city and schools time and training expenses because the next academy entry date would be April or May. The position might not be ready for the next school year.
Sequim schools last had a resource officer in 2009 before cutbacks led to the city and schools agreeing to stop funding the position.
For the new officer, the city received a four-year grant for $125,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice’ Community Oriented Policing Services, COPS, hiring program.
The grant pays 75 percent of costs in year one and two with $56,055 set for year one. It would cost both entities about $9,342 each for the officer’s salary and benefits (about $74,740). In year two the grant pays $57,874 and the entities about $9,342 each for an officer at $77,165 in salary and benefits. The third year splits 50 percent of the costs, with just over $11,070 in grant monies costing them a 25 percent split at $35,508 for $82,086 in salary and benefits.
The fourth year is required for the grant but does not offer any funds so the city and schools would split $42,938 for an officer’s salary and benefits at $85,877.
Dickinson said this could be offset by any grants they receive. He’s also spoken to leaders with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe who expressed an interest in potentially helping with costs.
The previous school resource officer visited all of the public schools in city limits to create relationships with students and staff, spend time in classrooms when appropriate and focused on crime prevention.