Facing an uptick in juvenile-related crimes, the city of Davenport has announced a three-way partnership that will increase officers in schools and on community-policing projects.
Mayor Frank Klipsch made the announcement as part of a media briefing session Tuesday afternoon at the Davenport Police Station along with Davenport Community School District Superintendent Art Tate and philanthropist R. Richard Bittner.
The Bechtel Trust, of which Bittner is the trustee, has issued a $600,000 3-year challenge grant which the city will match in order to hire two additional school resource officers for its intermediate schools in addition to hiring two officers for community-policing activities.
"The purpose of this initiative is to engage parents, students, teachers and community leaders in working together to create a safer and more connected Davenport," Klipsch said.
The grant will be presented to the Davenport Community School District, which in turn will contract with the city of Davenport to provide these services.
In total, the new officers represent a $1.3 million investment by the city and the Bechtel Trust to build a better relationship with youth and steer them from criminal activity.
"This project will provide mentoring, relationship building and positive connection while making our community safer," Bittner said.
Tate lauded the partnership because he said there needed to be a greater presence at schools to make an impact.
"The students need to see that community and schools are one and that the community and parents in the schools are one," Tate said. "That's the only way we're going to solve our problems and we have a lot of them."
The addition of two school resource officers will double the current number of resource officers in the school district.
Police Chief Paul Sikorski said a few Davenport officers, including himself, became interested in law enforcement because of a similar police presence in their schools when they grew up.
With the need to make new hires, Sikorksi said it would take more than four months to get the officers on the street.
The goal is have both sets of new hires in place by the start of the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Alderman Mike Matson, 7th Ward, praised the city for its investment in officers at the schools having witnessed first hand the effect it has on students.
"It isn't standing at the door," Matson said. "It's working with the kids when they go through problems and with the staff to solve problems as the chief, Dr. Tate, the mayor and Mr. Bittner said right there. Sometimes they are not sure who to talk to because trust is the big thing."