CRAIG SHULTZHemet school trustees will be asked Tuesday to approve spending almost $900,000 to pay for police officers for its 12 middle and high school campuses. Since the sprawling district has schools within the city limits and in unincorporated county areas, separate agreements must be reached with the Hemet Police Department and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. If approved, Hemet Unified School District will pay the Hemet Police Department up to $515,000 for four officers – one each at Tahquitz and West Valley high schools, one split between Acacia and Diamond Valley middle schools and one split between Rancho Viejo Middle School and the Santa Fe Education Center. The contract with the Sheriff’s Department is for up to $375,000 for three deputies split between Hemet High and Dartmouth Middle School in East Hemet, Cottonwood School in Aguanga, Hamilton Middle and High schools in Anza and Idyllwild School. Money for both contracts comes from the district’s general fund. Costs are to cover the salary and expenses of the officers. Both deals are more expensive than they were in the most recent school year. The school district’s contract with the city in the recently completed fiscal year was for $446,000, but the bill came to $349,000 because of staffing shortages with the Police Department. The sheriff is billing 5 percent more than in 2013-14. The officers’ duties will include patrol during peak activity times, handling minor violations, assisting school officials with truants or hostile individuals and conducting informal lessons on law enforcementrelated topics. The officers selected to work at schools are paid by their departments. Having officers on campus helps defuse some issues before they become major, said Lucy Dressel, Hemet Unified’s safety director. “Our officers are involved in a variety of preventive measures while on school campuses,” she said. “These can include helping students deal with the pressures facing them today such as the use of alcohol, drugs and tobacco, along with peer pressure, gang activity and bullying.” Dressel added that the officers are a resource for students, parents, teachers and administration regarding law issues. The school board meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at district headquarters, 1791 W. Acacia Ave.
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