Saturday, July 07, 2007

Getting Wonky With The APS Police "Department" Situation

Note: Gil Lovato isn't really mentioned in this blogpost. Hope that saves some folks time to go elsewhere for their Gil Lovato fix.

I just spent half of an important Saturday morning (it's Saturday, right? Remember, I'm a seasonally unemployed teacher person and have only a rough idea of the day o' week concept at this point) researching aspects of the whole APS police department/not a department thing. Interesting to me, not so sure it would interest anyone else.

I'm far from an expert after two hours of Googling, but here's what little I've retained and a website or two to look at....

Yesterday I just thought it was funny that APS Board Member Robert Lucero said it was illegal for the District to have a police department, when it has already had what it called a police department for years. Okay, that's still funny, but with a little bit of Orwellian/Clintonian semantics, it almost makes sense. That's because school districts around the country have a bewildering array of relationships with their local law enforcement agencies. Really bewildering. And, just as you might expect, the nature of district/local cop interaction is based on money, accountability and power.

At the same time, an increasingly popular idea in the field is that of the School Resource Officer (SRO). This concept arose in large part because as districts determined (whether rightly or wrongly) that they needed to have cops in schools everyone noticed that being a cop in a school is not the same thing as a cop on a regular beat. SROs have become their own sub-field in law enforcement, with their own (kinda scary) membership organization and job descriptions. I link to the Tucson Police Department's site because: 1. I wanted to see a comparable district/city relationship to the one in Burque; 2. It just so happens Tucson has been at the forefront of this SRO concept, going back to 1962.

The biggest questions with SROs (and school policing in general) have been:

  1. What exactly do these people do?
  2. Who pays for it?
Some districts/cities have come much farther in terms of answering these questions. Not unexpectedly, APS/Albuquerque is not one of these cities. A study done by the Department of Justice makes for interesting wonkaholic reading, and if that describes you perhaps you'd like to see both the recap on problems experienced by SRO programs which includes APS as a "Large New Program" in its assessment, and a more specific breakdown on individual districts and best practices/horrible outcomes in each (look for APS as "Large New Site Four", it I read it correctly...even if they seem to have some figures messed up).

Keep in mind that this DOJ stuff is in .pdf format and has been known to induce immediate narcoleptic reactions in non-wonkish readers. Be advised.

A few things I'm still looking for:

  • How much do SROs get paid around the country? This is made tricky by the funding agreements (here's one from Costa Mesa, California), funding mechanisms (city, county, district, grants) and varied job desciptions, but you'd think one could find this out via salary schedules at either school districts or city/county websites. Not so easy. I looked for a magic table/chart with comparative salaries across the country, but no luck. Those equally geeky are encouraged to look and report back. By the way, it is easy to find APS "patrol officer" and "campus security assistant" salary schedules, and it's embarrassing. (Go to "APS Careers", then "Salary Schedule" then find the proper categories)
  • Information about APS going to the SRO concept. Frankly, outside of these reports linking APS to SROs I'd never seen anything about it. And looking at the APS website is no help, especially as APS Police doesn't even have its own webpage. Searching Google was no help either. I know I'm not terribly smart, but did I miss a memo/series of articles/decree somewhere back?
  • Serious discussion between APS Board Members, APS Police and City o' Burque/Bernalillo County. Frankly, the Gil Lovato thing is a red herring in this regard, but at least the Lovato fiasco has brought up the woeful state of things. Now is time for something none of the aforementioned parties have demonstrated as a strong suit: leadership and coordination. Neither APS or the City/County is going to pay the total bill for school policing. We all know that. So each party involved should stop posturing and get together to form an agreement. Perhaps it would be a good idea to seek out some best practices around the country and mold not only a solid agreement, but a quality framework for departmental success. Heck, maybe the parties involved could seek more federal/state funding for such a renovated department, citing not only general school violence concerns, but Homeland Security precautions as well.
Aw, who am I kidding? How many of us think this APS policing situation will end with any discernible leadership or coordination? Certainly up to this point the smart money says it will only get uglier and uglier, and we've got tons of research history to support the likelihood of such an outcome.


Natalie said...

I always like to make my comparisons to the school district of Palm Beach Florida. Granted, the district is bigger than APS and more spread out, but it's still a fairly good comparison. I happen to like their superintendent, too. And their website is easily navigated. Here's the link: School District of Palm Beach Florida
They actually have their own police force, complete with a collective bargaining agreement and posted salary rates.
I made comparisons between SDPB and Denver's school district. Denver has SRO's and an agreement with Denver PD. So, two examples of two different types of police resources.
You aren't the only Wonk to be sucked into the Wonky Toolbox. It happens to me all the time. I read something about APS and then get re-routed into some "learning journey" that has me asking more questions than finding more answers.
It is illegal for APS to have an actual police department, regardless of what Gil Lovato called it. It would take a legislative measure to approve it.
I still believe the city needs to step it up, regardless of their recruiting issues (Which, btw, are their problem and not APS' and if I said something like that to my boss I'd be lookin' for another job.)and the feelings of White and Schultz.
However, this bargaining cannot start out as adversarial. They all have to come together and make agreements and, as you'll see with SDPD, there are union collective bargaining agreements to be made, etc... It's a really big deal.
For once, I'm seeing APS as jiggering public opinion by following what appear to be political steps to make APD and the sheriff's department get with the program. I don't know if I'd go so far as to call that leadership, however. I can't really tell if it's intentional, or not.
And so it goes with APS'...
Modus Operandi
Have a great Sunday. It is Sunday, btw.
Okay, I'm done italicizing and bolding.

frannyzoo said...

Thanks Natalie, I'll spend/waste more time at the Palm Beach site. As for the "Wonky Toolbox" perhaps "Wonky Phantom Tollbooth" is a better name or "Wonky Wrinkle In Time". And yes, I'm a middle school literature teacher.

How about "Wonky Abarat"? I could go on....

Natalie said...

Mmhmm... Willy Wonky and the education factory was the first to come to mind...
I'm not a literature teacher but I did work in a bookstore for ten years.
Maybe we shouldn't get each other started... lol.
Lord knows there's yet enough fodder for blog titles corresponding to the follies of APS well beyond Gradegate and Principal Shuffle... I see a new series in the future ala Cap'n Underpants.
Of course, that's one of my favorite series of "literature"... heh!

Ched MacQuigg said...

Since you are again writing about the APS; would you please consider drawing some attention to the policy committee meeting Thursday evening?

Anonymous said...

Right now - APS has underpaid commissioned police officers; most of them are retired law enforcement. The APSPD also has campus security aides. The SRO's in the schools are APD & BCSO Officers. APS does not pay for those Officers.
It's the responsibility of APS to provide security to their district (children, employees, property). If we think it's the City's responsibility (APD)to protect our children and APS property, perhaps we ought to turn the whole district over to Mayor Marty.
Here is APSPD's website

Anonymous said...

It has not been confirmed that it's illegal for APS to have their own Police Dept. The AG will decide that.
The APS legal advisor said he found nothing to support it. He did not say he found a statute that specifically states it's illegal. We'll see...
In the meantime, let us imagine if APD had the responsibility of handling the security of the City, airport, UNM, hospitals, KAFB, Intel, malls and APS. If one feels APS is their responsibility, aren't they all, really?
At this time these are not their responsibility, but they will respond to these places in any event.
God forbid we experience anything close to 911 while all these places are under the blanket of APD's "responsibility." They will respond, in force,( as they should) to the catastrophe leaving all of these "responsibilities" vulnerable. I would feel better knowing that these places have their own security in place while city and county responders react to major events. Especially APS.
It is their responsibility to PROVIDE a safe and secure environment while teaching my children. They just don't want to be accountable for the liability.
No, they don't know how to run a Police Dept. But they sure as heck don't support or respect the opinions and efforts of those who do!

frannyzoo said...

To all: Thanks for the comments. I admit my post was more of a question than an answer regarding the situation. Two things:

1. An Anonymous above mentions the complex funding of APS (and yeah, these APS/APD acronyms get confusing) law enforcement types. What is even more confusing is the terminology involved "police officer", "campus security aid", "school resource officer". I'd really like to see a single graph/table that illustrates the funding streams, and an accompanying glossary defining differences in these jobs.

2. I think it's clear at this point that many on both sides of the APS/APD fence are just pissed-off at each other. We don't seem to be at the stage where actual negotiations can take place, and maybe we need to have one of those "rumbles" like in "The Outsiders" (no guns or knives, naturally) to work out these palpable hostilities. Something's gonna have to happen, because at some point soon serious negotiations have to take place, with leaders on both sides (and the city, too) stepping up to the plate with something other than a AK-47 in their hand.

Anonymous said...

APS Police Officer - Special Deputy
APS Cops who can arrest people, take them to jail, submit reports to the DA for prosecution, are certified officers, and have the support of a state law that allows county sheriffs to appoint special deputies (yes, like a standing posse devoted to school law enforcement)

APS Security Officer - no ability to arrest, but can take action or observe and report withing the same confines as any other security guard. Has lesser standard than police officer to search - reasonable suspicion rather than probalbe cause. Works District wide or can be assigned to a single school, uniform but not same as the police uniform.

APS Campus Aide - Usually a high school employee, with high school specific duties, not usually in a uniform, but may have "security" on their jacket or t-shirt. Trained annually by APS in such things as verbal de-escalation, non-violent intervention, juvenile specific issues - these people are well trained but unarmed.

Charter School Security - not part of APS Security of APS Police, duties and uniforms, including treaining ,vary widely.