Basalt may place cop in schools
The town of Basalt has received a three-year, $125,000 grant that could enable it to place a police officer in the public schools by the 2000-01 school year.
Sgt. Chris Maniscalchi said the grant was awarded last month and now must be accepted by the Basalt Town Council before the funds can be used. By accepting the grant, the town must agree to continue funding the program after the three-year federal program expires.
Maniscalchi said the funding will allow the department to place a full-time officer in the three public schools on a rotating basis. The officer would watch for trouble, but also teach drug-prevention classes and generally build relationships with youths, he said.
A new organization called Basalt for a Safe Education, or BASE, is “definitely behind it 100 percent,” said Terri Newland, who helped found it. Having the presence of an officer would be beneficial in a crime-prevention role and as a person who could serve as a kind of counselor, she said.
BASE was formed earlier this winter in large part due to a threat that was made against some middle school students by some classmates. Threats were made by girls who were found to possess a BB gun at school, according to authorities. One of those girls is facing a criminal charge.
Newland said about 100 parents, school officials and concerned community members have gotten involved with BASE. The organization is looking into providing a youth center somewhere in the Basalt area and providing after-school activities.
BASE’s next meeting is Monday, Feb. 7, at 6:30 p.m. in the Basalt Middle School.
Sgt. Maniscalchi said if the $125,000 grant is formally accepted by the Town Council, a person would be hired and trained to Basalt Police Department’s standards, then receive special training for the role through the Department of Justice.
Due to those requirements, it is unlikely an officer could be in place in the schools by the end of this school year, he said. His goal is to institute the program at the start of the 2000-01 year.
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Just in time for Halloween, the Pitkin County Board of Health voted 4-2 to reduce the size of informal gatherings from 10 to five for at least the next two weeks starting Friday. According to the public health director, officials are currently investigating 11 outbreaks in Pitkin County.