Sequim to hire police officer to patrol schools

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– Police Chief Bill Dickinson is beginning the process of hiring a new officer to patrol the city’s four schools.

Dickinson was given unanimous approval by the City Council on Monday night to hire a school resource officer after the Sequim School District Board of Directors agreed to pay half the officer’s salary after a grant to pay for the position expires.

Candidate list to come

Dickinson said he will compile a list of candidates for the position.

The city may be able to hire an officer already trained in the special aspects of school policing, he said, but if not, the process of training a new officer could take several months.

“I have to act quickly in case we do need to train somebody,” Dickinson said.

The next opportunity for an officer to train to serve schools is in April, he said.

The city received a $125,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice in October for the officer. Annual salary and benefits for the position total $85,877.

The grant would cover most of the officer’s salary and benefits for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years, but the city and schools would bear more of the costs in the following two years.

Four schools on roster

Once hired, the officer will serve the four schools in the city limit: Helen Haller Elementary School, Sequim Middle School, Sequim High School and Olympic Peninsula Academy.

Sequim previously had an officer dedicated to schools, but both the city and the school district stopped funding the position in 2009.

The new officer will cost the school and the city a little more than $9,000 for the first two years. Dickinson estimated the officer would cost both the city and the district $43,000 after the grant expires.

Dickinson said the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe has said it might consider helping to fund the officer.

The tribe pays $6,000 a year to the city in impact fees related to its 7 Cedars Casino in Blyn.

The district has about 2,500 children on its main campus complex every day.

Court contract

In other business Monday, the City Council unanimously approved an increased contract with Clallam County to have the city’s criminal cases heard in District Court.

The contract increases costs to the city from $5,414 a month, up from the $5,308 a month charged in 2013.

Councilman Ted Miller asked if the city should consider its own municipal court.

City Attorney Craig Ritchie said the city has had preliminary discussions about a separate municipal court staffed with a circuit judge who would also service municipal courts in Port Angeles and Forks, but that arrangement may be too costly.

“Right now, this is sort of the best deal in town,” he said. “And the only deal in town.”

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 28. 2014 6:02PM
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