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Charlotte Area News

CMPD To Schools: More Money Please

http://66.225.205.104/JR20100922a.mp3

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department wants to double what it charges the public school system for police officers on campus. WFAE's Julie Rose reports the move is motivated by a pending gap in the CMPD budget. Earlier this year, CMPD welcomed, with open arms, a one-time grant of stimulus money to hire 50 new police officers. Chief Rodney Monroe vowed he'd find a way to keep them on the beat when the money ran out. But the solution Monroe has come up with is not sitting well with some members of the CMS Board of education. "A number of my colleagues are pretty hot about this, and we should be," says CMS Board Member Trent Merchant. Over the next three years, CMPD wants to incrementally increase the fee it charges CMS for police officers assigned to schools. Currently CMS pays about $50,000 dollars a year for each school resource officer. The district has 50 of them, plus a handful of officers from towns including Huntersville and Matthews, which CMS pays a similar rate. But CMPD Deputy Chief Ruth Story says CMS has only been paying for about half the true cost of the officers. "We feel like the reimbursement formula has not worked well for CMPD, though it's worked well for CMS," says Story. By 2014, CMPD wants the school district to pay twice as much for each officer's time. The program's tab for CMS will go from $2.5 million up to $5 million. The police department also says it will stop providing crossing guard services starting next year. Story says CMPD spends about $175,000 a year on crossing guards and has not been charging CMS for the service. "CMPD is just like everyone else, looking at where our resources are being spent, how we could do a better job of serving the citizens of Charlotte," says Story. School crossing guards perform a CMS function, not a police one, Story adds. CMS board member Trent Merchant disagrees. "How is it when I'm going to a concert or a Bobcats game, CMPD pays for crossing guards to help me across the street, but when it comes to school kids, that's not public safety, that's CMS?" asks Merchant. CMPD says the crossing guard savings, coupled with the extra money it hopes to charge for school resource officers, should be enough to keep those 50 stimulus-funded cops on the job.