Braham considers submitting grant application to fund school officer position

Braham Police Chief Robert Knowles recognizes Ryan Smith for his “selfless actions” March 12, when he helped children in a motor vehicle accident. Photos by Urmila Ramakrishnan

Braham Police Chief Robert Knowles recognizes Ryan Smith for his “selfless actions” March 12, when he helped children in a motor vehicle accident. Photos by Urmila Ramakrishnan

The city of Braham is considering applying for a grant that would fund an on-campus police officer for Braham Area Schools.

The Community Oriented Policing Services Program would allow the city to deploy school-based policing for a school resource officer, if accepted.

The program pays up to 75 percent of an officer’s entry-level wages and benefits for three years. The grant will pay at most $125,000, which means the city would need to cover about $67,000 plus benefits in order to fully fund the program. The grant would also require the officer to be at designated schools 75 percent of the time.

The council discussed whether it would benefit the city. City Administrator Sally Hoy said in the meeting that Braham Superintendent Greg Winter was in favor of applying for the grant, but a few council members voiced concerns for funding the remaining salary and benefits to officers.

“My take on it is, since the school is the primary beneficiary of the idea, the school ought to come forward with their proposal for what they consider to be their share,” said Councilman Lowell Jaques at a City Council meeting June 3. “How much of the school’s payroll is coming back to Braham? Not a lot, and we are providing the area that the school is educating in, but our school population is largely outside the city of Braham. It’s going to happen, but it’s on whose dime? I think we should press to get their dime involved, not just our dime.”

Braham Mayor Patricia Carlson and PeopleService Region Manager Paul Christensen accept a Minnesota Pollution Control award. Other PeopleService employees involved in the Braham effort (not pictured) are operator Mike Piha, Greg Brink, George Valvoda, Chris Lisson, Jerry Williams, Alex Leger and Don Bronzofski.

Braham Mayor Patricia Carlson and PeopleService Region Manager Paul Christensen accept a Minnesota Pollution Control award. Other PeopleService employees involved in the Braham effort (not pictured) are operator Mike Piha, Greg Brink, George Valvoda, Chris Lisson, Jerry Williams, Alex Leger and Don Bronzofski.

Council Member Vicky Ethen said if the school were able to pay for the 75 percent of the time that the officers were at the schools, she would agree to the grant application.

“They have to pick up their share of it, which is the 75 percent,” she said. “I don’t think the city should pay for the school to have an officer in there.”

Council Member Traci Leaf was on board with moving forward with the application, adding she would feel much safer having an officer there protecting her children.

“I think having an officer in the schools is an excellent idea,” Leaf said. “I think it’s long overdue and needed. I see what’s going through there, and I think it would be an excellent addition to the school. I would have done this eight years ago, had it been brought up. It does excellent in Isanti. It does excellent in Cambridge.”

Currently, all police calls received from the school are handled by Braham city police, said Braham Police Chief Robert Knowles in the meeting. The council won’t act on the application until it has been discussed at the School Board meeting June 16.

In other action:

• The council recognized Ryan Smith for his actions March 12, where he helped children out of a vehicle that was involved in a serious accident.

• The city of Braham received a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency award for 2014, making this the 10th certificate of commendation received since 1993. It is also the sixth award to PeopleService operator Mike Piha.

• The council approved the renewal of an interim permit for the farmer’s market that will run June through October.

• New policies were adopted for the fire department. One was a substance use policy and the other dealt with digital images and social media for the department.

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