SYRACUSE -- The cost of using school resource officers to combat gang activity in Davis County should be shared by all entities, as opposed to its falling to the Davis School District and the cities where the schools are located, a mayor in Davis County says.
Syracuse Mayor Jamie Nagle said she would like all Davis County cities to partner with the school district in helping pick up the cost of putting a police officer in each of the county's high schools and junior highs.
The district has eight traditional high schools and 16 junior highs, according to the Davis School District website.
The district currently pays 50 percent of the officer's salary and benefit package, with cities picking up the remainder, including vehicle, equipment and uniform costs for the officer, school officials say.
Costs for school resource officers vary from city to city.
For example, in Layton, the annual salary of school resource officers in fiscal budget year 2010-11 ranged from $45,359 to $63,509, depending on the officer's experience and past performance, officials say.
But district officials are willing to discuss Nagle's proposal for a partnership between all cities and the district, which currently contracts only with cities having their own police departments.
"We would be more than willing to have a discussion if it is the concern of (all) mayors," said district spokesman Chris Williams. "We're part of the landscape."
Nagle's request, shared Wednesday with the Davis Council of Governments, comes on the heels of a February report by County Attorney Troy Rawlings that stated Davis cities are seeing an increase in gang activity.
Davis COG took no action on Nagle's request. As a result, the first-term mayor does not know where her effort is headed.
"But I am committed to keeping the conversation alive," she said.
Since November, 23 gangs have been identified in Davis County, with 71 known or suspected gang members having committed crimes, Rawlings told COG members in February.
Of those gang members, about one-third are teens, he said.
And gangbangers are recruiting children in the county's junior highs and high schools, officials said.
Such scenarios should have each city engaged and committing funds to addressing the problem, Nagle said. However, the first-term mayor refuses to point fingers.
With Syracuse police having officers in Syracuse High and Syracuse Junior High, as well as a D.A.R.E. officer for the various elementary schools, Nagle said, her city is picking up a "big chunk" of the cost associated with school resource officers.
Nagle said that expense should be shared.
"Really, schools are the front line to address (gang activity) and target (gang activity,) because that is where these kids are," she said.
"There is no doubt what Nagle says is correct. It serves a school well. It serves a community well," Williams said of having police in the schools.
And if there is gang recruitment at the school, "or just plain old mischief," the resource officer serves as a deterrent to that, Williams said, and the district appreciates the sacrifices cities like Syracuse are making in staffing the positions.
"Just kids knowing (officers) are in the building keeps a lid on things."