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School Police Officers on Chopping Block at TCAPS

Some Traverse City schools may lose its liaison police officer due major budget cuts. Traverse City Area Public Schools is trying to trim more than six million dollars from next year's budget. A budget task force spent the last several months identifying a list of recommendations for the school board to vote on. On the top of the list is more than three million dollars in wage concessions, along with changes in transportation, and increasing class sizes, among others. One of the recommendations: cut the four liaison officers currently stationed in all of the district's secondary schools. Three of the officers work for the county, and one works for the city. TCAPS started paying for half of the officer's salaries about six years ago when the county came forward and said it couldn't afford to fund the position itself. “The liaison officer cut will be a cut that will be recognizable by the students, staff, and the administration,” says Jim Leyndyke, Principal of Traverse City Central High School. Leyndyke says the relationships officers develop with the students benefit not only the police department but also the school. That relationship is in jeopardy if the board approves this money saving measure, and if the city and county can't find money to keep the positions going. “I think any cut that we're going to make throughout TCAPS is going to be difficult,” says Pam Alfieri, Principal at West Middle School. “I'm going to support any decision that's going to be made.” The school board will vote on the recommended cuts during its February 8th meeting. 9&10's Ryan Raiche and Photojournalist Jeremy Erickson have the story.