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Bush's proposed cutback could hurt Newport Beach police

April 12, 2001

Deepa Bharath

NEWPORT-MESA -- President Bush's budget cuts might obliterate a

program that has helped the Newport Beach Police Department hire several

officers and buy laser guns and computers, officials said.

Under the Community Oriented Policing, or COPS, program, police

departments hire officers by matching federal aid. Over the last four

years, Newport Beach has hired 10 officers through the program.

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"We don't know yet how much it's going to affect us," said Newport

Beach Police Sgt. Steve Shulman. "But the federal money has been very

beneficial to us in terms of staffing."

The federal matching funds pay newly-hired officers' salaries for

three years, after which the departments take over and pay the full

salary. Newport Beach has received $750,000 to hire officers and $1.9

million for technology upgrades over four years, said Shulman. That

$750,000 would definitely disappear under Bush's budget.

The other two areas of COPS that will not suffer because of the budget

cuts are the school resource officers program, in which officers patrol

local schools and act as mentors to students, and the funding to purchase

equipment and upgrade technology.

But the COPS program as a whole provides police departments with "what

they need the most -- people and technology," said Shulman.

Newport Beach has two school resource officers who patrol Corona del

Mar and Newport Harbor high schools and Ensign Junior High School.

The officers who are assigned to the schools full-time also teach

classes relating to drug abuse and violence.

"The program has worked out real well," said Shulman. "We've got

positive feedback from the community and the officers have built a good

rapport with the students."

Their constant presence on campus also helps deter students from

committing crimes, he said.

While Costa Mesa does not use the COPS program to hire officers

because it is not "feasible," it does plan on using available funds next

year to assign officers to its schools, said Police Chief David Snowden.

The school resource officers program will be modeled after Newport

Beach's program, said Capt. Tom Warnack. Whether the program will take

off or not depends on City Council approval, he said.

The total cost to set up that program, including equipment and

salaries for two officers, amounts to $296,500.

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