Yakima plans for new police sergeant to bolster school security

Yakima plans for new police sergeant to bolster school security
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Yakima did what a lot of schools across the country did after the mass shooting in Newtown and took another look at its safety procedures.

As a result, KIMA learned a new police sergeant will be assigned to the Yakima School District for the next school year.

Katie Jelinek wants what every parent does when her daughter goes to school; a good education and safe environment.

"I don't leave until I see her walk through the doors," said Jelinek. "There's people behind me, honking like hurry up! I want to make sure my child is going to be safe."

And so does the Yakima School District.

Action News learned administrators recently agreed to bring on a new sergeant to take the reins of school safety.

"The exploration came after Newtown, to be honest with you. I don't think we would've had this discussion had it not been for that event," said Yakima Schools Superintendent Dr. Elaine Beraza.

But like nearly every other district around the county, safety became paramount.

"We knew that we needed to have that extra push," Beraza said.

The new sergeant will be in charge of the district's seven student resource officers.

There's currently one officer at each Yakima high school and middle school.

"That person will also be a liaison between us and the police department and one central place for us to go," said Beraza.

The district said the sergeant will coordinate officer training and also keep staff trained on the most up-to-date safety practices.

As far as costs go, the school district has agreed to pay 75% of the new sergeant's salary. That agreement holds true for all SRO positions.

In this case, the district plans to spend over $100,000, because sergeants make more money than rank and file officers.

"It's a cost you feel is worth it?" KIMA asked.

"Absolutely," said Beraza.

Thousands of taxpayer dollars every year that parent's like Katie agree is worth it.

"These kids need to be protected," said Jelinek. "Whether it's by the parent's or by the public and the school stepping up."

Starting next school year, Yakima schools will have that extra push.

The Yakima Police Department said it's currently taking applications for the new sergeant position. An experienced officer should be hired over the summer.

One of the first assignments will be to look for potential threats or vulnerabilities around each school.