North Kitsap public schools may soon get police presence

The City of Poulsbo and the North Kitsap School District are in talks to assign a police officer to local schools.

POULSBO — North Kitsap schools may soon have a little more enforcement than a hall monitor. Talks between the district and the City of Poulsbo could result in a police officer being assigned to the schools in Poulsbo.

A deputy from the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office may also become present at NKSD’s schools in Kingston.

“Both (Mayor Becky Erickson) and (Chief Alan Townsend) have met with the North Kitsap School District to establish, finally, a school resource officer that hasn’t been at the school since 2009,” Councilwoman Connie Lord said. “Superintendent Patty Page and the school board are in agreement to subsidize a school resource officer. That is wonderful news for our students.”

Lord — who serves on the council’s Public Safety Committee — informed the council at its Jan. 21 meeting that the Poulsbo Police Department and the school district have come to a tentative agreement to form the school resource officer program.

“We’ve had meetings with the school district’s superintendent, and they have expressed interest in having a memorandum of understanding,” Townsend said. “We have to work out the memorandum of understanding between the sheriff’s office, police department and the school district. Then we have to get the council to support the concept, which in the past they’ve indicated it’s a priority of theirs.”

Townsend said the city will have to adjust its budget to fund the officer, and the council would then have to approve it. Once approved, a veteran officer from Poulsbo would become the resource officer, chiefly covering North Kitsap High School and other schools as needed. A new officer would then be hired for the position on the force left by the school resource officer. The resource officer may have an office at the schools, Townsend said.

“The district is interested in moving forward quickly on this,” Townsend said. “If we are aggressive, maybe we can get something up and running in the spring or the next school year.”

The concept, Townsend said, is for the Poulsbo officer to also cover Kingston High School until the sheriff can fund a resource officer for that school, which is outside Poulsbo’s borders.

Deputy Scott Wilson of the sheriff’s office said his department is in talks with Poulsbo police, but does not have any plans for a resource officer of its own.

“We are in discussions with Poulsbo police on how we can assist them, but at this point we are not putting a deputy in the school,” Wilson said. “We don’t have the bodies and we don’t have the money.”

If and when a deputy can be placed at Kingston High School, the Poulsbo officer would be available to back up the Kingston deputy when needed.

The school district previously had an officer and a deputy assigned to its schools, but when 2009 budget cuts came in the wake of the economic downturn, the program was cut.

To fund the new program, the school district would cover 25 percent of the costs for the additional officer for the first year of the program, then 37.5 percent the second year, and 50 percent the third year and forward.

Erickson noted that the cost of the resource officer will be approximately $75,000.

“(Students) are safe now, but we need to be proactive to keep them safe,” Erickson said.

Page declined to comment further about the agreement before the school board’s Jan. 22 meeting.