Dist. 11 contracts with Coon Rapids for school liaison officer, DARE program

Contributing Writer

There’s no change in the level of service in the contract the Coon Rapids City Council approved with Anoka-Hennepin School District 11 Aug. 15 for the police department’s school liaison officer and Drug Abuse Resistance Education programs.

Under the contract, which will cost the school district $271,466, the police department will provide school liaison officer services at Coon Rapids and Anoka-Hennepin Regional high schools, Coon Rapids and Northdale middle schools and River Trail Learning Center, as well as the DARE program in the district’s seven elementary schools in the city – Adams, Eisenhower, Hamilton, Hoover, Mississippi, Morris Bye and Sand Creek.

The purpose of the programs is to promote crime prevention within District 11 schools, provide drug abuse education and coordinate activities between the district, the criminal justice system and social services, according to the contract.

The police department has operated the school liaison officer program since 1974 and the nationally-recognized DARE program since 1989, said Deputy Police Chief Paul Ireland.

School liaison officers are detectives within the police department – Paul Frakie at Coon Rapids High School, Cameron Gustafson at Coon Rapids Middle School, Dawn Berglund at Northdale Middle School and Mike Sternquist at River Trail Learning Center. They also cover the regional high school and other schools in the city.

According to the police department website, the school liaison officers foster a positive environment with students and staff at the schools, deal with law enforcement matters that come up at each school, keep track of missing students from the schools and make educational presentations on driving and internet safety.

Through the DARE program, assigned patrol officers teach a 10-week class to fifth-graders that promotes self-respect, self-worth and gives the students the ability to say no to drugs and alcohol, said Capt. Jon Urquhart, Coon Rapids police.

Officers Jaime Jackson, Josh Pirkola and Bryan Platz will be teaching the DARE program during the 2017-2018 academic year with one more officer yet to be assigned, he said.