By Amir Ghani/Orange County Tribune
One full-time police officer, known as a School Resource Officer (SRO), will be hired to serve Westminster public schools within the Garden Grove Unified School District for the next five years. This decision to increase school policing comes after a 5-0 vote from the Westminster City Council at Wednesday’s meeting.
The SROs will operate at La Quinta High School and McGarvin Intermediate School.
The full twelve-month cost of the officer is $214,000. GGUSD will cover 76% of the cost. With seven months remaining in the fiscal year, $113,848 will be paid to Westminster Police Department to support their services within the school district. GGUSD will cover 100% of any overtime costs that may occur.
“As you know we’re limited on resources, even though obviously we want to keep the children safe, the reality is that our funding situation is low,” said Vice Mayor Carlos Manzo.
The officer’s purpose on school campuses would be to deter criminal activity, investigate crimes that occur on campuses, and to even show up at the homes of students with school staff or counselors if need be.
“The Westminster School District is highly interested and we are in talks for somehow funding an SRO for them,” said Darin Lenyi, chief of the Westminster Police Department. The WSD is a K-8 system serving most of Westminster and portions of adjacent communities.
Councilmember Kimberly Ho raised questions regarding how the officer would be allowed to treat the students and if a third party would be present if a situation occurred.
Chief Lenyi said there is a policy in place that addresses “all of that.”
All SROs will undergo unique training before being deployed to local campuses. In addition, if the principal of a school finds issues with an officer’s behavior they will be able to request that Lenyi reassign the officer.
At the start of the 2023-2024 fiscal year, GGUSD will pay in advance for 10 months of these policing services.