Back to school for some deputies?

Come late August, it is hoped that three Mesa County Sheriff’s deputies once more will be patrolling the halls of several middle schools in unincorporated parts of the county.

That hope depends on the county obtaining a federal grant of $545,000. The county commissioners approved the application for the grant on Monday.

We certainly hope the application is successful. The money would allow the Sheriff’s Department to reinstall deputies at Grand Mesa, Mount Garfield and Redlands middle schools, and also serve elementary schools that feed those middle schools. The officers were laid off or reassigned because of budget cuts.

Their presence in the schools is an obvious crime deterrent, and based on anecdotal evidence, it may be a deterrent to bullying as well. But there are other benefits from the on-campus presence. It helps the Sheriff’s Department build relationships with students, parents, faculty and staff and other entities involved with the schools. Those relationships may pay dividends, both in schools and off-campus.

If the grant is approved, it would pay the salaries and benefits of the officers for three years. The county would have to commit to paying those officers for at least a year afterward

We hope that, as the economy improves, the county will be able to keep the on-campus officers not just for one additional year, but in perpetuity. It’s impossible to put a price on what they may do to prevent crime, make schools safer and in building relationships throughout the community. But it’s a cost worth paying.


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