The City of Glendale intends to pull money from several sources to pay for new school resource officers. Starting Monday, a school resource officer will be staffed at every Glendale high school. The move is a response to the deadly school shooting in Florida.
The SRO plan calls for a total of five new Glendale police officers to cover Independence High School, Glendale High School, Apollo High School, Deer Valley High School and Mountain Ridge High School. The combined cost is estimated at $750,000.
To gather funding, Phelps says the City will start by not filling a vacancy for a City Council staffer.
“It was a vacant position and we're not going to fill that position,” says Phelps.
The second part of the plan involves reducing a raise for city employees from 2.5 percent to 2.25 percent.
“[It’s] less than $75 for the typical employee for the entire year, and we think it's a value statement for this organization to say we believe nothing should rise any higher than protecting our children in our schools.”
The third part of the funding plan is to pull money from the police and fire unions.
“We had fully funded two union positions both in fire and police who are primarily not scheduled to do police or fire work but to do union activities,” says Phelps. “We've asked them to reduce that program.”
The Glendale Police Department shifted resources to get officers in the schools immediately, and Phelps says, candidates to hold positions at each school for a four-year term will be selected later.
Phelps says the school districts will be asked to cover 25 percent of the costs, which may put a strain on tight school budgets.
“We’re not going to pull a resource officer off of the campus at this point,” says Phelps. “We would just continue to work with the school district and their boards. If it can't be done today, can we phase it in in a reasonable amount of time?”
Councilman Jamie Aldama issued a statement Monday claiming the city did not collect enough input on the proposed SRO plan before unveiling it in a press conference on Friday.
“Let me be clear at the onset, I am in support of providing safe schools for all our children, and I support the concept and deployment of School Resource Officers in achieving this vitally important objective,” Aldama’s statement reads. “What I do not support, however, is the utter lack of transparency our city government exhibited in its headlong rush to action in making this decision.”
Aldama says school officials, unions reps and City employees should have been consulted. He also raises questions about school officers’ functions, how often they will be utilized, and whether they will be earning overtime pay.
The SRO plan is part of the proposed city budget, which will be released in May. It’s up to the City Council to vote and approve it.
[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Politics]
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