by: Richard Thompson Updated:
OLYMPIA, Wash. - The police department did not want to pull its officer out of Olympia High School, but with 12 vacant police positions to fill, the city needs more police on the street.
Spokesperson Laura Wohl told KIRO 7, "In order to make sure we are seeing to the safety of the entire town, we need to pull resources from a variety of areas, and basically put those people on the road."
School district officials say the Olympia officer, Doug Curtright had built strong relationships with students and it's hard to see him go.
"It's disappointing, but we're going to take the steps we need to keep kids safe," said district spokesperson Rebecca Japhet. The district will be hiring a second full time security officer to patrol the halls at the high school.
Parent and Pioneer Elementary PTA President Jennifer Meyer says Officer Curtright patrolled Olympia High and its eight feeder schools and he can't be replaced by security officers.
Meyer said, "You need to have somebody who has police authority, not just security guard authority."
Meyer says you don't have to look any further than a recent incident at Black Hills High School in Tumwater to see the value of having an officer at school.
The Tumwater officer assigned to Black Hills played a key role in stopping a 14-year-old boy who made threats to shoot up the school and had the weapons to follow through on the threat.
Meyer says Olympia High School also needs to have an actual police officer on patrol. "To be losing what is a minimally adequate level of school security is just really alarming."
Meyer hopes to get the decision reversed and is sending a letter to parents alerting them about the situation and letting them know how to share their opinion with police department leaders.
Wohl, the Olympia police spokesperson tells KIRO 7 the department is working hard to fill its officer vacancies and hopes to have the officer back on patrol at Olympia High by the beginning of next school year.