St. Francis, district approve new police liaison contract

The police presence at St. Francis schools will be different this year.

When the St. Francis School District 15 and the St. Francis City Council approved the police liaison contract, they approved dropping the number of police liaisons from two officers covering three schools to one.

The officer will be spending most of his time at Crossroads Vocational School and visiting St. Francis middle and St. Francis high schools at given times, said St. Francis Police Chief Jeff Harapat.

The officer will also be at the high school to direct traffic, he said.

Based on the change, the contract was reduced from $132,631 to $65,000 for the year, which is paid for using the district’s safe schools levy and site resources.

This is something the district is willing to pilot with a review in January, Superintendent Ed Saxton told the school board at its Aug. 27 meeting.

If the officer is needed in another school, the school officials have been directed to call 911, he said.

When the schools call 911, the calls will be recorded, something that did not happen under the previous liaison system, and another officer will be dispatched if the liaison is busy, Harapat said.

Calling 911 will give the schools a quicker response than calling the liaison officer’s cell phone, he said.

The new contract will benefit the school district by reducing the cost of the contract and the city will be able to improve services to the city residents by putting another officer on the street without having to hire a new person, saving the city $100,000, Harapat said.

But the change in the contract will also mean the liaison officer will no longer be available to monitor lunch rooms or the hallways and other non-law enforcement activities the school administrators had been using the officers for, he said.

Based on the activities the liaison officers have been doing and the number of calls for service, the district does not need two full-time officers, Harapat said.

The St. Francis City Council unanimously approved the contract Sept. 4 and the school board approved it 4-1 Aug. 27 with School Board Chairperson Marsha Van Denburgh voting no. Boardmembers Matt Rustad and Suzanne Erkel were absent.

Tammy Sakry is at [email protected]