As Clark County parents prepare to send their kids back to school on Monday, will they be safe? The people who protect them say no. Contact 13 investigates claims that a school police staffing shortage puts everyone at risk.
Whether patrolling surrounding streets or roaming school halls, having police officers on campus is comforting at least. And at best, could prevent a tragedy.
Education in Clark County schools takes a backseat to one thing, safety. So says the district, but the police union says they're not living up to that claim.
Tony Russo is president of the Police Officers Association of CCSD. When assignments were released for the 2016-2017 school year, he sent this email to all union members.
"Right now, we are severely understaffed for this upcoming school year. Most of the high schools that had two officers assigned to them are down to only one," said Russo.
Vacancies left by retiring officers and others who left the department are budgeted for, but have not been filled. The remaining officers are spread too thin, which undermines their ability to ensure a safe learning environment.
According to the union's list, 31 high schools had officers assigned to them last year. This year, 20 went from two to one permanent officer.
View the number of officers assigned to each school on the map below:
It's a loss that's difficult in a county that's had its share of school violence.
As 13 Action News reported last November, a 16-year-old was shot and killed at Mojave High School after a fight. That school is down from two officers to one.
Canyon Springs High School still has two. Its history includes a violent start to the 2013 school year.
Students were badly hurt in a fight and one was robbed at gunpoint and pistol whipped during a welcome back breakfast for the senior class.
Six middle schools had a permanent police presence last year. This year, the the association says only Roy Martin Middle School on North 28th Street has an assigned officer.
Tony: "What it's made is an already soft target even softer in our eyes."
Darcy: "The staff is at risk? The students are at risk?"
Darcy: "And have you expressed those concerns to the chief and the district?"
Tony: "They have not sat down with us."
They would not sit down with Contact 13. School police Capt. Ken Young declined to go on camera. Over the phone he said current staffing levels are down about 7 1/2 percent.
Clark County High School is another campus the union says is down from two officers to one. Police officials say they've been experimenting with single officer campuses for a few years and don't feel it compromises safety.
Young says roving officers and zone patrols will provide three officers per every two high schools. He added that they hire year-round and partner with other law enforcement agencies for assistance.
CCSD had an outside consultant perform a staffing analysis of the school police department. In July, we asked for a copy, but to date, they've delayed giving it to us, saying the district needs more time to process. We'll share it with you as soon as they share it with us.
View the CCSD zoning maps: