Rocklin police, schools start security probe

PD to RUSD: no new officers this year
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald correspondent
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The Rocklin Unified School District has teamed up with the Rocklin Police Department for a security probe in the wake of the December shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

“Safety audits are under way; review of our safety plans are taking place,” said school district Superintendent Kevin Brown.

Brown did not say what proposals are on the table or how in-depth the audit will be. During the district’s winter break, Brown signaled possible off-duty officers volunteering, or Rocklin police volunteers or possibly parent patrols on campus to help out.

“Several meetings to discuss options and alternatives are happening and will continue,” Brown said.

The district had been conducting safety lockdown drills prior to the national tragedy. For RUSD Trustee Steve Paul, it is an example of the great relationship between the Rocklin Police Department and schools.

“I was at a couple of elementary schools when they were practicing their school lockdown drills,” Paul said. “The kids were engaged and knew exactly what to do when the alarm went off. Our principals and school staff have been working very closely with Rocklin PD reviewing their safety plans and if there have been any modifications that needed to be made, they were made.”

What changes, if any, will be made to Rocklin Unified School District’s security protocols are now under the microscope. RUSD Trustee Wendy Lang said she’ll wait for the recommendations after the audit findings before any decision can be made.

“School safety is of the utmost importance to the board,” Lang said.

In the meantime, Rocklin police are conducting increased patrols in the area around Rocklin’s two high schools, two middle schools and 11 elementary schools. Rocklin PD currently assigns two full-time officers to the high schools and the schools help fund them.

“We pay a flat fee for the year and the PD picks up the rest,” Brown explained.

RUSD pays $50,000 for each officer and Rocklin’s share is about $75,000 each, according to Brown. Rocklin Police Chief Ron Lawrence met with the school board last week and announced his department will not hire any new officers this year.

“We are year by year,” Lawrence said. “I am not adding any positions for budget year 2013-2014. I’d love to add more officers and bring them to an optimal level. We’re a team player when it comes to the (budgetary needs) of other city departments.”

While the city hasn’t endured any more staff cuts this year, it’s at the tail end of recessionary staff reductions. Right now the ratio of officers to the population is 0.88 per 1,000 residents compared to Roseville’s one officer per 1,000, a recognized national standard and what Lawrence described in November as the bare minimum “we need to stay safe.” City Councilmember George Magnuson said the number is a goal that’s hard to come by.

“The ideal ratio is one officer to every 1,000 citizens, but more and more municipalities are not reaching those goals these days because of the economy,” he said. “We will do the best we can.”

It may be a difficult sell to rebuild the force when the Rocklin crime rate continues to fall. Rocklin’s crime rate has seen a 9 percent drop in major crimes from December 2011 to December 2012. According to the police department, Rocklin has 17.9 major crimes per 1,000 residents, compared to Roseville at 29.4.

“The crime rate is actually down, so we are working with what we have,” Lawrence said.