Local stakeholders still awaiting word on COPS grant application

    Although everyone continues to wait patiently for word on a federal COPS grant the Crookston Police Department applied for to fund the return of a School Resource Officer to Crookston Public Schools, CPD Chief Paul Biermaier Monday evening will update members of the Crookston City Council on the “goals and objectives” for a potential SRO position.

    In SRO-related discussions earlier this year, City Administrator Shannon Stassen and Biermaier said they figured word would come on Crookston’s grant application by October, but Biermaier tells the Times no word has been received as of yet.

    Still, at least as of now, the fate of the COPS grant application – which would fund the bulk of the position for three years and require all local funding in the fourth year – is not the sole determining factor as local officials ponder the return of an SRO to the public schools. In 2018 City of Crookston budget discussions earlier this year, council members, Stassen, Biermaier and Mayor Wayne Melbye weighed the merits of leaving some money in the 2018 budget to potentially fund an SRO without the assistance of any grant dollars, with the primary and most likely partner on an undetermined level being the Crookston School District. During those discussions over the summer, there was resistance from some council members to commit money in the 2018 City budget to an SRO when the council didn’t know the fate of the grant application and didn’t know the school district’s level of interest in partnering to fund the position. At the time, everyone agreed it was best to let things play out, with finding out if the COPS grant application is approved or denied obviously being a giant factor in any SRO-related decisions going forward.

    Meanwhile, the Crookston School Board has yet to discuss the SRO position at length publicly, given the uncertainty of the COPS grant application.

    A previous COPS grant years ago funded an SRO in the public schools, a position that was generally well-received across the board. In October, Crookston High School Principal Eric Bubna noted at a school board meeting that Crookston Police officers are routinely “popping in” at CHS in the morning before classes start and again at lunchtime just to have a presence in the school and become familiar faces for students and staff.

    Biermaier will discuss the SRO issue at the council’s Ways & Means Committee Monday evening, which will commence immediately after the council’s meeting at 7 p.m. at city hall.