Even though a sought-after federal grant fell through, the City of Minot and Minot Public Schools continue to pursue a partnership to provide two police officers to serve as resource officers in the schools.
The Minot City Council's Finance and Improvements Committee agreed Tuesday to recommend the council use the $13,000 included in the 2014 city budget as match for a potential federal grant to help hire and equip the resource officers.
The school district has committed to pay 75 percent of the salary and benefits of the new resource officers as well as a large share of initial equipment costs. The officers would be stationed at Magic City Campus and Central Campus but would spend some time at Jim Hill and Ramstad Middle Schools and be on call for the elementaries, said Kim Slotsve, assistant superintendent.
Minot is the only major North Dakota that does not have officers in the schools.
Slotsve said her previous experience with resource officers in Grand Forks convinced her that a police presence is valuable in a school setting.
"I can tell you that the changes that makes in the culture in a building and the resource that offers to staff, to students, to families, to parents, you can't put a dollar amount on that," she told the committee.
"They are there, certainly, to provide a heightened sense of security that really does make an impact," she added. Having a consistent presence rather than a visiting officer supports the development of relationships with staff, parents and students, she said.
The positions would begin in January when the city's budget year begins.
The Minot Police Department had applied for a federal COPS grant for three officers in the schools. The department did not get the grant.
However, the department received more money than expected from a state Oil Impact Grant when the State Land Board reduced the local match to 10 percent. The grant went to buy equipment and pay overtime costs for law enforcement projects.
The police department is proposing to use the $31,582 budget savings in part toward the school resource officers.
The bulk of the savings, or $25,556, would go to supplement a federal STOP grant to create a position for a domestic violence investigator. The city received $40,000 from the STOP grant after requesting $65,556.
Police chief Jason Olson said the number of domestic violence and other cases are increasing.
"Our investigators are extremely burdened right now, and I think a detective that would concentrate on sexual assault/domestic violence crimes would lessen the burden," he said.
The committee gave its support to redirecting the funding to provide for a domestic violence investigator as well as the school resource officers.