KOLOA — A scary situation turned into a win-win situation for Koloa School leaders.
Debra Badua, the school’s principal, ex-plained that, during a recent police drug sweep in the neighborhood, Koloa School officials were unaware of what was going to transpire, and at the height of the excitement had to institute an all-school lockdown.
That miscommunication between law-enforcement officers and school leaders has been resolved through the establishment of a Kaua’i Police Department office on campus, Badua said.
“Now we know when they’re going to do something like that,” she said. “And, the officers don’t have to go all the way back to the Waimea station to do their paperwork.”
The establishment of the office for KPD officers was OK with state Department of Education leaders, Badua explained. Once the approval was secured, the process began, and the police have maintained a presence for about two months, Badua said.
Across the street and behind the school are two low-income rental-housing projects, state and county apartments from which drug deals have been reported and investigated.
Prior to the KPD office being established in the school, Badua said there was a high incidence of vandalism. When the office was set up in the heart of the Koloa campus, the van-dalism incidence rate dropped.
One of the reasons for the decline in vandal-ism is because they (the perpetrators) have no idea when the police are going to show up, Badua speculated.
The office in the teachers’ lounge has all of the necessary infrastructure, including toilets, Badua pointed out.
Officer Mark Stulpe was working on reports yesterday morning, and noted that the office in Koloa School supplements the mini station that was established several years ago at Po’ipu.
Stulpe noted that the school’s office has the T100 computer lines, which facilitate the officers’ reporting processes.
Badua said that another benefit of having the police visibility within the schools is having the children become accustomed to them, as well as learning that they are allies, and not necessarily the bad guys who come to take them away.
This stereotype arises because many of the children who attend the school live in nearby housing projects where several drug busts have taken place.
“I like working with kids,” said Stulpe, whose daughters attend Waimea Canyon School. “The department has the COP (Community Outreach Prevention) program, and DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, but we always like to help out.”
- Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or email@example.com