Police chief says second school officer needed

New cop would be assigned to elementary, parochial schools, allowing current officer to focus on middle, high schools
By 
KRISTYN HAL BIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

  The Grafton Police Department hopes to hire a second school resource officer to work in the village’s public elementary and parochial schools beginning this fall.

Police Chief Jeff Caponera told the Public Safety Committee last week that there’s a need for a second officer, which would allow the current school officer, Tony Alfonsi, to continue his work at the middle and high schools, where he spends most of his time.

“The love’s not quite being spread around the rest of the campus,” Caponera said.

Resource officers are sworn law enforcement officers assigned to the schools who are tasked not only with safety issues but also with fostering good relationships between police and students.

Caponera noted that Trustee James Miller asked to have a discussion about a second school resource officer, especially after the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers on May 24.

The new officer would be assigned to the Grafton School District’s elementary schools, as well as St. Joseph Catholic School, St. Paul Lutheran School and Our Savior Lutheran School, the chief said.

Typically, he said, there is one officer for every 1,000 students, but in the Grafton School District alone there are about 2,500 students.

Committee members estimated the parochial schools likely have more than 500 students.

Caponera said he applied for a COPS grant on June 17 to help fund the officer’s position for the next three years. 

The grant, he noted, would cover 75% of the officer’s salary. The village would pick up a portion of the remaining cost, as would the school district and parochial schools.

The officer would be hired by the village, and the grant requires the village to maintain the position for 12 months beyond the grant period, Caponera said.

Committee Chairman Lisa Harbeck asked how the position would be funded following that time frame.

A cost-sharing agreement would have to be reached with the public and private schools, Caponera said, adding St. Joseph and St. Paul schools have indicated a willingness to share the cost.

But, he added, it won’t be possible to hire the second officer without the COPS grant.

“Jesse (Thyes, the village administrator) and Paul (Styduhar, the finance director) said it’s not going to be an issue if we don’t get a grant,” Caponera said, adding he expects to find out if they receive the grant in August or September.

The school officer is assigned to the schools full-time and is expected to be in the schools every day. They also attend numerous extracurricular activities.

“They’re there as long as the students are there,” Caponera said.

Harbeck asked if the officer then joins the ranks of the other patrol officers during the summer.

He does, Caponera said, but he noted that time is limited because the resource officer receives training in the summer and also takes the comp time he’s accrued during the school year then.

A final proposal for a school officer will be submitted for approval later this year, Caponera said.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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