Leaders call on ESD to reinstate School Resource Officers as gang violence hits Lynnwood

LYNNWOOD, Wash., August 13, 2022 – Local leaders and community members gathered at Lynnwood’s Silver Creek Family Church to discuss public safety in an open forum setting on Wednesday, August 10. 

“There is an inherent need for authorities to help keep our public safe,” Lynnwood City Councilwoman and event organizer Julieta Altamirano-Crosby said in her opening address to her second “Let’s Talk About Public Safety” forum. “The lives of people depend on public safety professionals and their ability to respond to situations quickly, effectively, and accurately.”

Panelist at the Let’s Talk about Public Safety forum that was held on August 10, 2022.

The forum comes a month after the tragic shooting deaths of 16-year-old Jesus Sanchez, Jr. and 15-year-old Tidus Goodwin-Linville at Spruce Park, a drive-by shooting leaving two teens injured, and another shooting at Pick and Pull in Lynnwood.

School Resource Officers
Pictured are (L-R) Lynnwood Councilwoman Shannon Sessions, Mayor Christine Frizzell, and Judge Valeria Bouffiou from the Let’s Talk about Public Safety forum that was held on August 10, 2022.

Mayor Christine Frizzell acknowledges that recent events “have been a little bit unsettling” but assured attendees that her administration is serious about public safety.

“We acknowledge that things have been a little bit unsettling, and we want to assure you that we are aware of them and taking action,” Mayor Frizzell said.

Lynnwood currently has 71 law enforcement officers and the city council recently approved five additional positions.

Panelist for Wednesday’s forum included James Nelson, Lynnwood Police Chief, Lynn Sordel, Director of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Arts, Bill Franz, Director of Public Works, Judge Valerie Bouffiou, Lynnwood Municipal Court, and Cole Langdon, Lynnwood Police Department. Karina Gasperin was the moderator for the forum.

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Lynnwood Police Chief James Nelson speaking with residents in the reception area at the Let’s Talk about Public Safety forum that was held on August 10, 2022.

Almost all the questions asked by community members to the panelist focused on gang violence.

“I want to know what exactly you are doing to prevent the youth for going into gangs especially the youth that is mostly targeted and what are you doing in the community?” asked Diana, a Lynnwood resident who summed up the overall sentiment of community members.

The removal of School Resource Officers (SRO) by the Edmonds School District in 2021 along with a new law, HB1140, requiring minor suspects consult with an attorney prior to police questioning that went into effect this year, Chief Nelson and other panelists attribute as two significant factors hampering preventative intervention of gang violence in Lynnwood.

“School Resource Officers see these problems as they develop,” Chief Nelson said. “They have tried to intervene with the parents and the students, and this isn’t just a small thing. Some of this is gone and we are trying to find a way to access those kids.”

“The legislation is a big deal and I see my role as informing policy…when we take away the ability of police to interview a juvenile in custody without a lawyer there is a big impact,” Chief Nelson said when responding to a similar question asked by another resident.

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Picture from the Let’s Talk about Public Safety forum that was held on August 10, 2022.

In addition to proposing fully funding Special Operations at the Lynnwood Police Department to tackle gang violence in the upcoming biennium budget, Councilwoman Shannon Sessions emphasized that residents must reach out to the Edmonds School Board to reinstate School Resource Officers.

“I want to reiterate that we have heard the [removal of] School Resource Officers was a bad decision when it happened,” Councilwoman Sessions said. “I am a mother of five kids and have worked in public safety, it is predictable to see what is happening and plus all the other things is something you cannot measure. It is huge and it is important to reach out to school board.”

School Resource Officers
Picture from the Let’s Talk about Public Safety forum that was held on August 10, 2022.

Community members inquired if the Edmonds School District is considering the reinstatement of the School Resource Officer program to combat rising gang violence, to which Chief Nelson implied, no.

“We communicated with them [Edmonds School District] that we are in that process of budgeting, because this [SRO] is a person we want to budget for and right now they [Edmonds School District] are not ready for a public resource officer to go and be there in the schools,” Chief Nelson told attendees.

Both teenagers who were fatally killed in the double-homicide at Spruce Park in July, attended Lynnwood High School. The shooting is believed to be “gang-related” according to law enforcement. In a FOX13 interview, Rose Camunas shared that her son Jesus “loved video games, ice cream and wanted to play football in school this fall.”

Parks and Recreation Director Sordel informed attendees that his department is going to do everything it can to prevent another senseless tragedy at Lynnwood’s parks.

“After the tragedy in Spruce Park, I asked what we can do, how can we help our community?” Sordel shared. “We are activating some things when school starts in Cedar Valley. We are going to resume drop by teams, our junior counselor programs…we are also trying to resume our night waves at the recreational center.”

Approximately 275 young adults are employed and/or volunteer at the Lynnwood Recreation Center, according to Director Sordel.

 “We recognize that the teens are more at risk in middle school and high school, so we focus on them,” Director Sordel said.

Judge Bouffiou shared she would like to see a “Law Day” program partnership with the Edmonds School District where every fourth grader would participate in a mock trial, be witnesses, jurors or judges.  

(L-R) Councilwoman Julieta Altamirano-Crosby with Judge Valerie Bouffiou and Karina Gasperin at the Let’s Talk about Public Safety forum that was held on August 10, 2022.

On another note, to reduce recidivism, Judge Bouffiou also shared the concept of a “problem-solving court” where defendants have access to GED, job training, and behavioral health service providers at the court. The forum was the second in a series organized by Lynnwood City Councilwoman Altamirano-Crosby. She informed the Lynnwood Times that the next event is planned for the fall.

Mario Lotmore

Mario Lotmore is originally from The Bahamas and for the last seven years has called Mukilteo, WA his home. Having lived in every region of the United States has exposed him to various cultures, people, and approaches to life. Lotmore created the Lynnwood Times to represent the character of a diverse and growing Lynnwood. The launching of the city’s community newspaper will only help bring neighborhoods together. Lotmore was an industrial engineer by trade and proven success implementing and managing lean accountable processes and policies within his eighteen years of operations excellence, strategic development, and project management in the aerospace, manufacturing, and banking industries. Over his career he has saved and created hundreds of union and non-union jobs. Lotmore is the President of a Homeowner Association, an active Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics volunteer in his community, and former Boeing 747 Diversity Council leader. Mario’s talent is finding “that recipe” of shared destiny to effectively improve the quality of life for others.

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One thought on “Leaders call on ESD to reinstate School Resource Officers as gang violence hits Lynnwood

  • August 13, 2022 at 9:18 PM
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    As I have noticed crime among youth increase at an alarming rate in our community, I couldn’t help but notice that this had started to happen not long after the Edmonds School District eliminated the positions of the School Resource Officers in our schools. I am a mother of 3. Since the SRO’s have been eliminated and the threats on our schools have increased, it has become increasingly more difficult to send my child to school, who does not feel safe at school. How do you send your child to school who is afraid to go to school? While we understand that the SRO’s may not be able to stop school violence from happening, their presence made students feel they were safe at school. The SRO’s did a fantastic job at having eyes and ears at the schools, being aware of what was going on, and most of all became a trusted adult for the students. SRO’s also were successful in developing positive relationships with the students. I ask the Edmonds School District to please consider bringing the SRO’s back to our schools. I don’t know how we can afford not to ask them back.

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