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New Law Enforcement Partnership between Sandpoint, Kootenai and Lake Pend Oreille School District

A win-win for all

Post Date:01/08/2020


January 8, 2020


SANDPOINT — A new law enforcement partnership between the cities of Sandpoint and Kootenai and the Lake Pend Oreille School District is a win-win-win for all.

A contract between Sandpoint and the school district was approved by the Sandpoint City Council in September to add an additional School Resource Officer from the Sandpoint Police Department and expand SRO services into the middle and elementary schools, including Kootenai Elementary. The added SRO presence in Kootenai then presented an opportunity for the two cities to enter into a Joint Powers Agreement – which went into effect on Wednesday, January 8th – for Sandpoint to provide municipal law enforcement services within the city of Kootenai.

The result of the agreements is a school-community connection, and a connection across communities that is a benefit to everyone. The police service model for the City of Kootenai includes a 24/7 response to citizen-driven dispatched calls, a regular SRO presence before, during and after school hours at Kootenai Elementary, proactive police patrols focused on traffic concerns (as prioritized by Kootenai Mayor Nancy Lewis and the Kootenai City Council), Sandpoint Police attendance at regular Kootenai City Council meetings to include semi-monthly activity reports to Mayor Lewis and the Kootenai City Council.

Kootenai Mayor Nancy Lewis said that she and the council have been actively working on getting a proactive local law enforcement presence for at least a year, though the desire has been there for many years.  “It is something Council has wanted for a long time and we are very happy,” Mayor Lewis said. “When the school came on board with a resource officer, it just made sense – it is going to be great for all of us.”

SPD Chief Corey Coon said residents should expect to see the increased law enforcement presence in Kootenai immediately, and people should not to be alarmed by Sandpoint patrols in the area.

“We have been pleased to provide expanded SRO services to Kootenai Elementary and we’re excited about the partnership with the City of Kootenai to provide broader municipal police services.  It’s good for the kids, their families and the broader community,” SPD Chief Corey Coon said.

Sandpoint Police Officer Spencer Smith has served as a School Resource Officer for LPOSD since 2014. Sandpoint Police Officer Dave Giffin became the second SRO in September, 2019.

“Our School Resource Officer program is about educating and partnering with the community, and letting the students know that law enforcement is out there to help them,” said LPOSD Superintendent Tom Albertson. “It is great to officially extend our SRO program into Kootenai.  Now that they have jurisdiction here, it just makes it more official.”

The contract between Sandpoint and LPOSD to expand the SRO program was approved following the voter approval of the school district’s two-year, $25.4 million maintenance and operations supplemental levy, allowing LPOSD to provide 60 percent of the annual salary for the two SROs.

“We are pleased to be able to serve the City of Kootenai.  This partnership is an excellent example of how local governments can work together collaboratively to provide a higher level of service to our citizens in a cost-effective manner,” said Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad.  “Sandpoint residents benefit by having another trained law enforcement officer available to respond during our peak summer tourist seasons when our call volumes are the highest without having to incur the costs for the additional position year-around.”

The agreement between the cities is active through Sept. 30, 2020, at which time Sandpoint and Kootenai officials will decide whether to renew the JPA for an additional one-year term.

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