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Police nab grant for school resource officers
SNOQUALMIE The Snoqualmie Police will soon join
the growing ranks of departments with special officers just for the
schools. The police recently received a three-year, $250,000 grant which will
provide two full-time officers for Snoqualmie Elementary,
Snoqualmie Middle School and Mount Si High.
"It would be advantageous to bring an officer in the school to bond
with students and be there to answer basic questions," said Don Isley, director
of public safety.
Isley still needs to hire and train the resource officers, and expects
to have the program running by next September. And having the police in
the schools again will help fill the void from the loss of the D.A.R.E.
program in the mid 1990s.
"We endorse enthusiastically the grant Don Isley wrote. It's a
marvelous opportunity," said Dr. Rich McCullough, superintendent of
the Snoqualmie Valley School District. "With the experience we had with
the D.A.R.E. officers, it's been a phenomenal experience."
The school resource officer program is just in the planning stages
in Snoqualmie. The police department and school district still need to
evaluate the most effective way to use the officers.
"Everything's not in concrete, like how much time the officers will
spend in each school. The needs will dictate that," Isley said.
What is known, however, is that there will always be an officer
available at the schools, and they will be there to answer questions from
students, parents and staff.
"I'd like to see the bonding of officers and students not only in
the schools, but when they see them on the street they can say hello,"
The Duvall Police Department also launched a school resource
officer program at Cedarcrest High, Cherry Valley Elementary, Stillwater
Elementary and the Multi-Age Program.
Mark Leitl, the officer assigned to the schools, divides his time
between the D.A.R.E. programs at the elementary schools and as a law
enforcement liaison at the high school.
"If we can get kids to see us as human beings and break down the
stereotype of police officers, this program is a success," said Duvall Police
Sgt. Bob Akey. "If they view Mark differently, they'll view us differently.
And then there'll be a change in attitude."
One of the issues that Leitl has been able to alleviate already is
the speeding problem in front of the school along Northeast 150th
Street. Since the school opened, residents have continually complained about
the high school students speeding through the neighborhood. So from the
first day of school, Leitl has been patrolling the area first giving
warnings, then handing out citations.
"The kids tell me that they can't believe I'm still stopping people
because they should know I'm going to be there," he said.
Though Leitl can be found enforcing the speed limit in the
mornings, most of his time is spent in the schools answering law-enforcement
related questions and providing information to students and staff.
"There's just so many goofy rumors out there," he said.
"Someone asked me that if they sucked on a penny, would I be able to tell if
they've been drinking."
There are also serious issues students approach Leitl with, such as
asking him to facilitate conflicts and helping seniors do research for their
"I have gotten a lot of positive contacts and have met a lot of kids
I wouldn't have met," he said.
"We've also received positive feedback from parents and the
administration," Akey added. "I know
this program will work and it's meeting its goals."