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LHS teams up with police

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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Lincoln High School students had better behave. That’s because the Western Placer Unified School District Board approved a two-year contract Tuesday with the city of Lincoln to fund a school resources officer for Lincoln High. “There is a strong need to have a youth services officer at Phoenix and Lincoln High School,” said the school district’s Superintendent Scott Leaman. The contract will staff a full-time police officer for Lincoln High and the adjacent Phoenix High School for two years at a cost of $130,000 per year. As much as $20,000 of that will be available each year from school safety funds but the rest will come from the General Fund – using the one-time funds the district received earlier this year. “I think it’s a really appropriate use of one-time money,” Leaman said. The teachers, according to Western Placer Teachers’ Association President Mike Agrippino, say that adding a uniformed presence on the campus will be able to prevent problems before they happen. Those problems include anything from gang membership to underage drinking and substance abuse. The officer will be one of Lincoln Police Department’s current officers and another officer will be hired to fill the soon-to-be-vacant spot, according to Lt. David Ibarra. The school resource officer will be tasked with building a rapport between students and police, being immediately accessible in the event of a problem, mentoring and coaching students and serving as a deterrent to crime. Ibarra told the board Tuesday that he recently toured Lincoln High School, where he saw evidence of gang activity. “I was amazed with what I was seeing,” said Ibarra, who served as a school resource officer at Lincoln High from 1999 to 2001. “I was automatically concerned for the students.” Drawing Ibarra’s attention, he said, were members of the Nortenos and Surenos gangs. The board unanimously approved the contract after hearing from Agrippino and Ibarra. “Kids need somebody in uniform that they can go up and talk to,” said Board President Paul Carras. “That’s critical.” Board member Ana Stevenson said her husband works as a school resource officer with the Sacramento City School District, adding, “I really think it is important that we have a resource officer in the high school.” Lincoln High junior Tim Ireland said the officer is a necessary addition to the school. “It will keep the bad kids out of trouble,” Ireland said last Friday, before the board voted. Robin Harlow, a senior, did not agree completely. “I think it would be a good thing,” Harlow said. “A little extra security would be good but it’s not absolutely necessary.” Jerusha Loya, student adviser to the board, said she thinks it is necessary because high school is where most students are faced with peer pressure to abuse drugs and alcohol. The new position will complement the existing school resource officer, who is funded by the city of Lincoln and works with the middle schools and at the Lincoln Youth Center. That officer was transferred from the high school 18 months ago, according to Ibarra, so he would be able to prevent crime and redirect students to a better behavioral path. Any overtime costs associated with the position approved Tuesday will be covered by the city, according to Ibarra. Brandon Darnell can be reached by e-mail at brandond@goldcountrymedia.com.