PORTLAND -- Portland’s police chief has suggested eliminating 14 officers at high schools throughout the city, as part of his widespread budget cuts.
Chief Michael Reese said his budget proposal would save $2 million.
Some students at Wilson High School said they feel safer because of the police presence at their school.
“Definitely because I know if there is some kind of lockdown--because we've been having a lot of drills lately--if it does come down to it, I know there will be someone nearby to help," said Wilson senior Haley Corbett.
The dean said officers help spot trouble. “I think the biggest value of the resource officer is that we can be proactive versus reactive,” said John Robinson.
Wilson's officer played a key role last September when a student posted a threat online about shooting students going to lunch. The principal said because the officer knew how to talk with a high school student and his parents, they were able to quickly decide the threat was not real.
“It was a hoax,” said principal Brian Chatard. "It was a big mistake, there isn’t anyone else involved, there's no violence that's gonna happen at Wilson."
Campus security officer Jayson Schmidt said students get a clear message when police are in the building. “That we treat their safety first and foremost with the highest regard. And no matter what our budget restraints are, we're gonna put them first," said Schmidt.
But that message would seem to change if police were cut from schools as the city struggles with tight budgets.
A sergeant who helps coordinate the officers in the schools wonders how they will protect the kids and staff without police on grounds.
“How do they want to address the fact that these buildings are here, there's tens of thousands of kids that come every day, thousands of staff members, thousands of visitors, all the events that go on all day and evening, sometimes on weekends. How do they want to address that?” Sgt. Greg Pashley asked.
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales has a big say over the police budget. A spokesman said he would not comment about police in the schools because budget talks were still ongoing.