Tacoma to beef up police presence in high schools, adding a sergeant

A contract the Tacoma School Board approved Thursday would beef up the police presence in the district’s high schools.

The new contract, which still must be approved by the City Council, calls for the addition of a police sergeant who will supervise five school resource officers, known as SROs.

That sergeant will be based at Oakland High School, an alternative high school.

Under a partnership in effect since 2009, one SRO is assigned to each of the city’s five comprehensive high schools. They deal with criminal offenses and major incidents at the schools.

But their goal is to prevent school crime from breaking out. They spend time getting to know students and trying to bridge the gaps in understanding that often separate teens and law enforcement.

They also offer advice to schools on strategies to increase school safety. The contract calls for SROs to work with school officials to investigate allegations of physical or sexual child abuse.

The contract anticipates the police department will provide these services to the school district for the next five years. The price tag: a maximum of just over $2.1 million, paid by the school district.

Any grant funding the school district or the city might receive to help pay for the SRO services could offset that cost, the contract states.

Debbie Cafazzo: 253-597-8635, @DebbieCafazzo