With budget boost, LAUSD police gearing up for new year
Yana Gracile | July 16, 2014
A budget increase of $4 million is enabling the LASPD, the police force that serves LA Unified, to build on the safety practices the department began implementing last year.
The additional funding came as a result of a growing number of school shootings across the country, including the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, and the enduring concerns of parents to keep their children safe.
“The community and students can expect to see on the first day of school a high visibility police presence of our police officers throughout different school campuses,” John Guttierez, a senior police officer at LASPD told LA School Report.
The additional funding has provided on-going training for officers, re-training school principals on lockdown procedures and additional safety personal at school sites, including 1,000 aides, which translates into two aides per campus.
They will help officers monitor the school site and report back to them if they see anything unusual. Random searches will also continue on school campuses.
“Parents want to know that we — as a district, as a police department and school administrators — are doing everything we can to keep their child safe,” Guttierez said.
And that includes making sure campuses are free from weapons of any kind, including knives and guns.
“We’re not going to allow someone to walk on campus with a big stick,” Guttierez said. “If it’s reported that they have a weapon or it is believed to be a weapon, any type of weapon, our officers will be out investigating that.”
He says officers will be deployed strategically throughout the district and they will remain on the school site during the day until dismissal. They will also be stationed along various school passage routes.
Police officers, who will be patrolling on foot, motorcycles, bikes and police cars, are going to be greeting students and welcoming them back to school as well as interacting with parents.
“So that the parents know that their kids will be safe and that our officers are here to work with them and facilitate a safe school campus.”
With additional support from the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, officers will also be on the lookout for anything that may cause a challenge to students including traffic issues, loitering or other suspicious activity.
Over the past year, Guttierez said there has been a reduction in crime on school sites thanks to students who genuinely want to get an education and officers who have been successful in keeping the rough element out.
“That contributes to a higher level of education because now kids can focus — and not focus on being robbed, harassed or bullied because our officers are engaged,” he said.
And he is asking for community members, parents or students to call LASPD’s weapons hotline at (213) 202-8605 to report anonymously anything suspicious or out of the ordinary.