City expands SRO program

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  • Giffin

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    Smith

  • Giffin

  • 1

    Smith

SANDP0INT — The Sandpoint City Council approved a contract with the Lake Pend Oreille School District on Wednesday to extend the school resource officer program for two more years and expand the services provided.

Under the program LPOSD will provide 60% of the annual salary of two dedicated school resource officers through the Sandpoint Police Department, according to a press release issued by the city.

Officer Spencer Smith has served as the sole SRO since 2014 and has been based at Sandpoint High School. He will continue in this role under this contract. Smith was hired by the Sandpoint Police Department in 2012 and holds an intermediate certificate from POST.

A second SRO will be added and will be based at Sandpoint Middle School. Officer Dave Giffin has been assigned. Giffin became a certified Idaho police officer in 1995 and was hired by the Sandpoint Police Department in 2001. He holds in advanced certificate from POST and is a certified instructor for POST in high liabilities and general topics.

In addition to the two schools where they are based, Smith and Giffin will also be serving Farmin Stidwell, Washington and Kootenai elementary schools.

During a typical day, SROs spend a great deal of time chatting with the students as they pass in the school hallways — building a greater level of trust between the students and police, according to the release. They also provide a regular presence at school athletic games and other extracurricular activities. In addition to serving as a security arm of the school, SRO’s help develop and update safety plans for each of the schools, serve as internal mediators — often at the front lines of interaction in de-escalating aggression between students, and assisting in the classroom teaching on topics such as criminology and bullying.

Researchers at Canada’s Carleton University conducted a two-year study of an SRO program in the Regional Municipality of Peel. Their 2018 report (http://bit.ly/2lzsV2x) concluded that for every dollar invested in the program, a minimum of $11.13 of social and economic value was created. The report lists numerous benefits of the program, including:

• Prevention or minimization of property damage in the school and surrounding areas.

• Prevention of student injuries and even death due to violence, drug overdoses, etc.

• Reduction of the need for schools to call 911.

• Reduction of the likelihood that a student will get a criminal record.

• Increase of the likelihood that students (particularly those with mental health issues) will get the help they need from the social service and health care systems.

• Increase in feelings of safety among students and staff.

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