Fresno Unified School District is allocating $500,000 to the Fresno Police Department to help pay for one of their new gadgets, ShotSpotter. The Fresno Teachers Association says the funds could have been used in other ways.
ShotSpotter senses gunfire and notifies officers of the location of the gun shots.
The Fresno Police Department received a $150,000 state grant in 2015 to install the system in Fresno.
Last week the Fresno Unified school board unanimously voted to contribute $500,000 over the next three years, and will allow the police to use school campuses as detection centers.
Fresno Unified School Board President Luis Chavez
“What we’re seeing is that we’re able to respond in time to actually find people in the process of doing something criminal and take them into custody,” he said. “Without it, a typical call comes in from 911 and says where they think the shots are – but they’re not exactly sure where. We send an officer to check out the neighborhood, but sometimes they can’t really locate the specific location.
“This gives officers an immediate, pinned location, and it doesn’t have to go through a concerned citizen. Filters also can determine a real gunshot from a firework or something else.”
Chavez said installing ShotSpotter is the latest of increased safety measures.
“This really links the whole campus safety and student safety model we’ve been working on. It’s not only benefiting the kids, but the neighborhoods that they live in,” Chavez said.
Jon Bath, chairman of the Fresno Teachers Association political action committee, and teacher at Sunnyside High School, said he appreciates school safety investments, but believes the district’s funds should be used for more preventive measures instead of something focused on crime after the fact.
“My concern is that these are education dollars. I don’t think that we would ask the Fresno PD to give us money to educate children,” Bath said. “But we know Fresno Unified is a cash cow with a ton of money.”
Tish Rice, President of the Fresno Teachers Association, said she supports Fresno police and the work that they do, but she’s concerned that $500,000 could have been spent on students.
“I’m concerned how money is allocated in the district, especially when there are so many needs facing our students,” she said.