Q: I realize the necessity for uniform police at today’s junior and senior high schools but please explain to me and my fellow citizens club the reason for full time patrol cars at these locations. With the need for additional cars to fight crime, why do these cars sit there all day long except when the officer goes to lunch?



A: The School Liaison Program was first implemented in Dallas in March 1969 as a joint project of the Dallas Independent School District and the Dallas Police Department. Over the years the program was expanded to more centers and to the Richardson Independent School District . The School Liaison Program is staffed with 29 officers and three sergeants. Each School Liaison Officer is assigned to a “ Youth Action Center ” — there are 27 such centers in DISD and two in RISD — that provides police service to six to 13 schools in addition to the assigned center school. There are a total of 217 DISD and 28 RISD schools. DISD student population is 163,000 with a staff of 20,000. RISD estimated student population is 20,000 with a staff of 1,500.



     The School Liaison Officer acts as a liaison between the department and the school district. They provide the presence of a uniformed police officer in and around assigned schools. Officers assist school districts with order maintenance by enforcing laws, intervening in disruptions and engaging in crime prevention activities. School Liaison Officers develop and report intelligence on impending school disruptions and on gang and criminal activity. There are several reasons why this officer needs a patrol car. First, they enforce traffic laws around schools to prevent accidents and injuries to students. They also perform preventive surveillance patrols to identify youth “hangouts,” and investigate truancy-encouraging conditions, taking appropriate action when necessary. In addition, these officers concentrate on chronic truancy by patrolling assigned areas to identify, apprehend and process juveniles who are truant.



     School Liaison Officers are not restricted to performing police services on their assigned campus. While driving between their assigned campus and the feeder campuses in the area, they are required to take action on any situation needing police intervention. During the 2003-04 school year, School Liaison Officers answered 12,781 calls for police service. They made 1,345 arrests, wrote 6,079 Class C Misdemeanor citations, and issued 633 traffic citations. These actions resulted in 1,184 crimes being solved. They recovered 21 stolen vehicles and other property totaling $131,260. They also confiscated 18 weapons and returned 535 truant students to school.  The mere presence of these officers on school campuses and directed patrols around the campuses helps prevent crime and improve response times.



     As evidenced by the above stated totals, a School Liaison Officer performs a considerable amount of duties other than those related to his or her assignment on a school campus. This alone shows the benefit of having a marked patrol car assigned to these officers. A more important reason is that in this day and age, a marked patrol car outside a campus means that there is a uniformed presence in and around the campus offering protection.