4/18/2013 12:03:00 PM Lakes Area Commission does not see need for 'armed guards'
by DENISE MARTIN
Lakes Area Police Commission members took a few minutes last week to review what’s being done locally in response to the always simmering, and more recently boiling, issue of school safety. Lakes Area Police officers have six school sites they provide service for; three in Chisago City at Primary and Lakeside, and the Baptist School, plus Chisago Lakes Middle School, High School and a school in Taylors Falls; not to mention learning sites where populations of students congregate at Pathways-to-Change and Wolf Creek Charter School.
LAPD Chief Kevin Stenson told the four police commissioners, the mayor and one councilmember from Chisago City and Lindstrom, that the department has a “very positive” relationship with school administrators. The administration and chief of police are not recommending posting full-time armed guards at any schools, however. An unmarried novice officer would start around $58,000 with benefits. Add some longevity and a family insurance plan, and the cost for an on-site officer would be closer to $82,000. Chief Stenson said currently Chisago Lakes District funds 10 months of two school resource officers’ pay. He applauded the district for supporting police in schools, continuing to provide work space at buildings and funding for police presence when other districts are cutting budgets and eliminating this. Local police working off confidential tips have also diffused situations before they could become headlines, the commissioners were told.
Deputy Chief Bill Schlumbohm added that there’s a cooperative environment between school officials and law enforcement here that allows for action on red-flags derailing potentially dangerous situations. Resource officers hours are “designated” to certain schools, Schlumbohm said. It’s not like the department will assign somebody to look into a concern if there’s time. During the school year the schools can count on being viewed as a law enforcement priority. That being said, the police commissioners also were advised there’s a major “active shooter” drill being planned, utilizing the Wyoming Elementary School. Medical and emergency responders, police, fire, etc. will participate in the exercise purposely using a less familiar building. There’s a lot of foundational work being done making sure jurisdictional policies are in place, identifying locations for the community to go to for information and finalizing agreements on who’s in charge, when. Each school in Chisago Lakes #2144 will also participate in an upcoming evacuation drill, at different times and separate days, on a yet to be announced schedule.
The school district is addressing security issues peculiar to each building. But, commissioners should remember the Sandy Hook School shooter forced his way past a secure entry so there’s no total guarantee on any measure, the chief added. A press release from the middle school (Press December 27, 2012) described a reconfiguration of the middle school front entry greeter cubicle, but Principal Jodi Otte tells the Press the cost of this project has nixed the idea. The school does still plan to install a camera at the main entrance and buzzer-authorized entry, similar to what the elementary schools already utilize. This update was for the commission’s information only, no action was taken. In other matters: Replacement of the chief’s 2003 vehicle was okayed. The forfeiture fund will contribute $10,000 in non-levy funding and there’s $15,000 available in the capital equipment account.
~ The contract for essential staff for 2012 through 2014 was adopted. The three year contract highlights include: fulltime employees in 2013 start at $43,198. At six years the officer would be at $58,223. In 2014 the start will go to $44,062 and a six year officer’s pay would be $59,387 (for 2014.) Sergeant wage scales are at $60,147 to start in 2013. Single person insurance premiums are paid 100 percent by the department. Family policies are a 65 (dept.) -35 split. Clothing allowance is $650 annually after the first year of service.
~ There were 16 permit to acquire handgun applications in the month, between the March and April commission meetings. And, while you’re surfing the web-- Deputy Chief Schlumbohm walked the commissioners through a website service that maps locations of calls for Lakes Area policing service. Departments across the U.S. use crimereports.com; a program that provides basic map-based details and which is accessible from the Lakes Area Police website. Locations of calls for service are not address-specific, but will give people a sense of what kind of calls happen in their neighborhoods. Schlumbohm also advised that this map displays an icon of “sex offender” call locations, but icons are not placed there by either Minnesota law enforcement or Lakes Area P.D. Because the program is national-- other authorities do enter data on zip codes and “their” sex offender can show up on the local map. Lakes Area Police legally can only make public the data about offenders categorized under Minnesota’s rating system as most likely to re-offend. The “sex offender” symbols on this map aren’t related to our system at all. It creates some confusion, the deputy chief added.