Contracts approved by the Coon Rapids City Council Sept. 6 continue the school liaison officer and DARE programs at Anoka-Hennepin District 11 schools in Coon Rapids for the 2016-2017 academic year.
One agreement provides school district funding for assigning Coon Rapids Police officers as school liaison officers at Coon Rapids High School, Coon Rapids and Northdale middle schools and Anoka-Hennepin Regional High School, formerly Crossroads Alternative High School, and officers to teach the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program to fifth-graders at all elementary schools in the city: Adams, Eisenhower, Hamilton, Hoover, Mississippi, Morris Bye and Sand Creek.
The contract totals $189,757, a 2 percent increase over last year, according to Paul Ireland, deputy police chief.
The Police Department has had school liaison officers in the high and middle schools since 1974, and since 1989, officers have instructed the nationally recognized DARE program in all elementary schools in Coon Rapids, Ireland told the council.
Under a separate contract amounting to $75,088, also a 2 percent increase, there will be a school liaison officer at River Trail Learning Center at L.O. Jacob School, where the Police Department has provided the program since 2010.
River Trail is a full-day special education program for K-12 students, all of whom have a disability, have a current individualized education plan and have significant emotional or behavioral needs.
According to the contracts, the programs promote crime prevention within the schools, provide drug abuse education – the ability to say to drugs and alcohol – and coordinate activities between the district, criminal justice system and social services.
Detective Paul Frakie is the school liaison officer assigned to Coon Rapids High School, while Detective Pat Carlson is at Coon Rapids Middle School and Detective Dawn Berglund is at Northdale Middle School, while officer Mike Sternquist is school liaison officer at River Trail Learning Center. They share the liaison duties at Anoka-Hennepin Regional High School and are the contacts for elementary schools.
DARE officers are Briana Johnson, Ken Young, Cameron Gustafson and Matt Wilberg. Young, a longtime DARE officer, is retiring from the department at the end of the month and a new DARE officer will be appointed to replace him, said Capt. Tom Hawley.
According to Ireland, the department provides the school district at the end of each contract year with a summary of the work of the school liaison officers and the number of students taught by the DARE officers.
In addition, the city’s finance department recommends contract increases based on the cost to the city to provide the two programs and that is sent to the school district to say yes or no to the increase, Ireland said.
“The two programs are definitely worthwhile,” he said. “Anytime we can have a presence in the schools and connect with students and staff, only good things come from that.”
The school district funds the programs through a special safety levy authorized by Minnesota Legislature.