By MADELYN FAIRBANKS
Published June 13, 2012
Snohomish High School officer position eliminated
SNOHOMISH - Snohomish High School’s campus police officer now knows for certain when his last day will be and it’s approaching rapidly. Officer Zach Brown has officially been given his current contract’s termination date in late August.
The Snohomish City Council has been discussing possibilities to close a projected $242,000 budget deficit for 2013, and city staff’s analysis claimed that except for one narrow service area — the high school’s only on duty officer — other possible staff reductions “couldn’t be made without undermining the ability of the city employees to either sustain basic services or maintain safety,” according to a special May 8 budget meeting.
In prior years, the city and Snohomish School District shared the cost of the officer with the district chipping in 75 percent and the city 25. Next school year, though, neither agency can afford to do so.
Without a financial collaboration, the council put the school resource officer position on the chopping block during the May 8 budget workshop as one option to help close the 2013 deficit.
Eliminating the position, which was contracted through the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office for this school year, is expected to save the city $166,000 through 2013.
The council deliberated the issue at its June 5 meeting and voted unanimously to officially eliminate Snohomish High School’s school resource officer.
Although officer Brown will be losing his position at the school, he won’t be out of a job.
Snohomish Police Chief John Flood said Brown will most likely be given an option to fill one of 12 vacancies within the sheriff’s office.
“He’s excited to be a deputy,” Flood said.
Since joining the Snohomish Police Department, Flood said Brown has always worked at the school. So with his contract nearing its end, he’s looking forward to beginning the next chapter in his career.
The departure of the school’s police officer may feel too soon, however, to a school that recently experienced a brutal stabbing incident on campus last October.
A 15-year-old sophomore with a history of mental illness stabbed two of her fellow students inside a bathroom at the school. She didn’t know the victims, one who almost died, and selected them at random. The sophomore pleaded guilty in March and will spend 13 years in jail, five of those years in juvenile jail where she will receive mental health treatment.
Nonetheless, the council stated that it sees “no other opportunity to further reduce budgeted positions without potentially creating operational dysfunction,” according to the May 8 budget workshop.
Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe who handled the stabbing case said he’s not surprised to see the officer go.
Roe, whose own office has been operating at 20 percent below capacity due to the strain of the recession, said that he’s in no position to criticize people who cut positions they don’t have money to pay for.
“I don’t know if the presence of a resource officer would have changed the outcome of that event,” said Roe, “but hopefully we never see the likes of it again.”