Shrinking budget and staff not helping CCSDPD secure schools

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The latest student arrests after making threats to schools come during a tough time.

As parents worry about their own child’s safety in class, the district’s police force is asking for more money to protect our schools. Officers say the school district continues to grow while the staff of school police has not.

The Clark County School District’s Police Officers’ Association tell 8 News NOW that school safety is of course its top priority, but a shrinking budget and loss in positions, is not helping.

Matt Caldwell, a school police detective and President of the Police Officers Association, is getting the message out.

“We believe everybody has the right to feel safe,” Caldwell said. “If you violate somebody’s right to feel safe we’re going to take away your right to freedom.”

The back to back incidents of threats against Clark County Schools this week set off alarms for students and parents.

Officers say they’d like to get ahead of the scares, but they’re spread thin. Caldwell says CCSDPD has lost $1.6 million dollars from its budget this past year. In the last ten years, its lost 17 officer positions while the number of CCSD schools has grown to more than 300.

“If you look at 160 guys going into 300, it’s not a good number for us,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell addresses that some schools have thousands of students and only one officer on campus. He says the addition of 40 officers would be a good starting point.

“We need more parents, student, staff to go to the legislature and say, ‘We need more funding for school police. We have the right to feel safe when we’re at school, give us that.'” Caldwell explained.

The Clark County School District Police Department says it gets more than 80,000 calls for service each year. Although some might be hoaxes, some are not.

“There was a case out of Desert Oasis where a kid was actually manufacturing bombs to blow the school up with,” Caldwell recalled.

Recent incidents, locally and nationwide, continue to prove that every threat should be taken seriously. “If somebody says, ‘Hey I heard something might happen,’ and that’s all we get from them we’re going to run it into the ground,” assured Caldwell.

To put it in perspective, the Police Officers’ Association says the Metro Police Department has 1.8 officers for every 1,000 people, and by that formula, CCSDPD should have 586 officers in service on a daily basis. It also adds that CCSDPD is not funded as a public safety agency, and its budget can continue to be cut.
 

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