Coon Rapids Police continues school liaison program

The Coon Rapids Police Department will continue to have liaison officers in Coon Rapids middle and high schools and teach the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program in eight elementary schools.

The Coon Rapids City Council approved the renewal of two contracts with Anoka-Hennepin School District 11 last month.

One contract assigns police officers to be school liaison officers at Coon Rapids High School and Coon Rapids and Northdale middle schools as well as officers to teach the DARE program to fifth-graders at Adams, Eisenhower, Hamilton, Hoover, Mississippi, Morris Bye and Sand Creek elementary schools.

The police department has had liaison officers at the three schools since 1974, according to Capt. Cary Parks, Coon Rapids Police.

The liaison officers serve students and staff primarily in the area of crime prevention, according to the terms of the contract.

The police department has instructed the “nationally recognized DARE program in all elementary schools in Coon Rapids” since 1989, Parks wrote in his report to the council.

The DARE curriculum is designed to promote self-respect, self-worth and give young people the ability to say no to drugs and alcohol, according to the police department website.

Under the one-year contract the school district will pay the police department $178,812.12, a 2 percent in crease from last year.

The second contract between police department and the school district covers just a school liaison officer at River Trail Learning Center at L.O. Jacob, formerly the Bell Center.

This will be the fourth year the police department has had an officer at that school, Parks wrote.

The cost of the contract to the school district is $70,577.40, also a 2 percent increase from last year.

River Trail Learning Center is a full day special education program for students K-12, who have a disability, have a current Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) and have significant emotional/behavioral needs.

The purpose of the police presence in the schools is three-fold, according to the contracts.

• Promote crime prevention within district schools.

• Provide drug abuse education.

• Coordinate activities between the district, the criminal justice system and social services.

The contract renewal went into effect July 1 and runs through June 30, 2014.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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