Press Releases

Jaime Herrera Beutler Supports Request for Battle Ground School Resource Officer

Washington State Healthy Youth Survey highlights alarming trends; Jaime champions Battle Ground Police grant application

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Washington, DC, July 21, 2016 | comments
A deepening concern over a growing number of adolescent suicides in the Battle Ground community has prompted Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler to express her strong support of a Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant request recently submitted by the City of Battle Ground.
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A deepening concern over a growing number of adolescent suicides in the Battle Ground community has prompted Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler to express her strong support of a Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant request recently submitted by the City of Battle Ground. The City of Battle Ground has requested federal funds from the U.S. Department of Justice for a second school resource officer to help keep students safe, and Jaime formally weighed in with the Department of Justice on Battle Ground’s behalf.

In the 2014-15 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey, students answered questions about safety and violence, physical activity, drug use and related risk and protective factors. The self-reported results in Battle Ground reflect the troubling realities of too many students suffering from depression, feelings of isolation, and who exhibit unhealthy and even dangerous behaviors.

“The number of students contemplating and attempting suicide in Battle Ground is staggering, and I’m willing to do whatever is needed to support the City of Battle Ground in its efforts to confront it,” said Jaime. “This grant request is a good step; a school district this size ought to have multiple school resources officers staying in contact with the students and addressing concerns before they have tragic outcomes. I believe providing a safe environment for our students to learn is precisely where the COPS program should be targeted.” 

Working collaboratively, the City of Battle Ground and Battle Ground Public Schools have taken several steps to proactively address these difficult issues. The school district implemented additional counseling and mentoring services. The Battle Ground Police Department, in partnership with the school district implemented a school resource officer program several years ago, but lingering post-recession budget constraints forced cuts to the program. This program that once served primary, middle and high school students with two school resource officers currently employs only one whose primary obligation is to the high school population. These budget limitations have left younger students, who are often the most vulnerable, without critical resources.

Federal funds would allow the BGPD to hire a second school resource officer and restore a critical presence within the K-8 populations. Battle Ground hopes this officer would also assist with problems at the high school and proactively deal with issues on campuses before they become a risk to students and staff. A second SRO, combined with the crucial counseling and mentoring services already under way, will prove to be an important next step in offering local students the protection and resources they deserve.

"Battle Ground has experienced difficult circumstances and loss over the past several years," said Mark Hottowe, Superintendent of Battle Ground Public Schools. "Many communities are facing similar challenges. Our school district and community partners have come together to find solutions, but we still need additional resources to strengthen the community’s response. This grant would provide a trained officer to bridge the gap between our community resources and our primary and middle school students and their families."

Jaime has been a consistent supporter of the COPS Hiring grant program that provides vital support to law enforcement agencies across the country. These grants provide funding to address the full-time sworn officer needs of state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies nationwide to increase their community policing capacity and crime prevention efforts.

“Battle Ground’s School Resource Officer program is a collaborative effort between the School District and Police Department,” said Bob Richardson, Battle Ground Police Chief.” Our School Resource Officer works proactively with high school students and community partners to address the prevalence of suicide, bullying, depression and isolation. Federal funding will allow the Police Department to add a second School Resource Officer and extend this critical service to our middle and elementary schools, where children are most vulnerable to developing harmful behavioral traits.”

Battle Ground by the Numbers:

The 2014-15 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey found that among Battle Ground students surveyed:
• 32% felt sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row;
• 18% seriously considered attempting suicide;
• 15% made a plan to attempt suicide; and
• 9% of 8th graders missed school due to not feeling safe.

Further, in the last year and a half alone there have been:
• Four teen suicides;
• Five documented teen suicide attempts;
• Ten documented teen suicide threats.

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