Burbank decides against funding more campus police

Burbank students won’t be seeing three more cops on campus next year, as the Burbank City Council on Tuesday voted to decline a partial grant — which came with a steep local match — to fund the three school resource officer positions for three years.

The federal grant would have provided the city with $375,000 over a three-year period for the three positions, but came with a price tag of $1.2 million, which included the city’s commitment to fully fund the police officers during the fourth year. Currently, the department employs one school resource officer, who mostly focuses on the city’s high schools.

The council declined the grant in a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Jess Talamantes being the sole dissenter.

“I’m actually disappointed, I wish we could’ve utilized the grants,” said Councilman David Gordon. “The reality of situation has been pointed out and discussed, and is that it is not really affordable for us in this context.”

The council had initially suggested a joint-funding agreement with the Burbank Unified School District to split the cost of the three positions, but school board members said public safety doesn’t fall under the district’s jurisdiction. Plus, school officials said there wasn’t space in the budget for such an expense.

“I think this is the police department’s responsibility, provided that they have the manpower and funding to do it,” school board member Charlene Tabet said at a meeting last month.

At its peak, the program boasted six officers. The grant would have helped restore positions that were slashed in previous years during budget cuts.

The value of having a specialist on campus, said Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse, is that they “build up knowledge of the schools, of the individuals and the problems.”

During the budget process, however, the police department plans to request that the city fund one additional police officer position that will perform on-campus duties.


Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.


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