Proposed vehicle fee would pay for cops in schools

February 9, 2010 6:41:26 PM PST
A California lawmaker wants to put more cops in our schools. And to pay for it, he wants you to pay more in car fees.

The plan is to put police officers at 100 high schools in California's highest crime areas.

Democratic Assemblyman Alberto Torrico of Newark is behind that proposal because he says some high schools are breeding ground for gangs.

"Gangs need two things, new recruits and customers for their products and their dope. The perfect places for both of these are high school campuses," he said.

Torrico would fund the "Cops on Campus Grant Program" by restoring the vehicle license fee but only for cars valued at $50,000 or more.

"All of Schwarzenegger's Hummers will be covered by the bill, all the luxury vehicles in California would pay a higher vehicle license fee going back to the original levels, which we had for 40 years in California," he said.

That would raise about $10 million.

Oakland Unified likes the plan because that school district is the only one in the Bay Area that pays for its own police force -- about $6 million a year that comes from the schools district's budget.

"It's rather inequitable. Schools receive money each year and schools in Oakland in the Oakland Unified School District are forced to spend money that should be going to the classroom and divert that money to safety programs," Chief Peter Sarna from the Oakland Schools Police Department said.

Jill Wynns is a San Francisco School Board member. She agrees the vehicle license fee should be reinstated but how that money is spent should be up to the districts.

"And it should be the school board and the school district decision whether we want to use that money for an academic program for enrichment or for security purposes," she said.

If the bill passes, the California Department of Education would oversee the grant program and it would be up to the school districts to apply for the funding.