Daily Times file photoMembers of the Kirtland Central High School marching band walk past San Juan County Sheriff’s deputies prior to halftime during
Daily Times file photo Members of the Kirtland Central High School marching band walk past San Juan County Sheriff's deputies prior to halftime during a game in October 2012.
FARMINGTON — A local state lawmaker has introduced a bill that would authorize school districts to form a police force for campus enforcement.

State Sen. Steven Neville is bringing back Senate Bill 306 after it died in during last year's 30-day session.

The bill would allow "a school district to establish a police force with jurisdiction within the boundaries of the school district."

Neville said the bill was not introduced in relation to the increase in school shootings across the country but to enable school districts with large student enrollment the freedom to operate their own system.

"This is not due to current events and not linked to the shooting in Connecticut," Neville said. "It has nothing to do with that, it is a logistical issue."

While working on the bill, Neville spoke to representatives with the Albuquerque, Los Lunas and Las Cruces school districts.

Although all school districts would have the option it is likely larger districts such as Albuquerque schools with 88,724 enrolled students and Las Cruces with 24,663 would be the ones to design their own police force.

"It would be similar to what is done on an university level," Neville said. "They have their own departments. It would be the same concept but different environment and problems."

The Farmington Municipal School district has the largest enrollment in San Juan County, currently an estimated 10,644 students. Bloomfield schools has an estimated enrollment of 2,963 students and Aztec schools have about 3,200 students.


Farmington Assistant Superintendent of Campus Programs Frank Stimac said the district currently does not have a stance on the bill, stating they have no idea how this bill is going to end up.

"You don't know what's going to be tied to it, what will change," Stimac said. "When you read the bill itself, it pretty much covers everything our (school resource officers) do."

The district currently has six school resource officers, which are local police, employed as part of a working relationship with the Farmington Police Department.

"Our relationship with the city of Farmington, especially the police department, is as wonderful a thing as you can have," Stimac said. "They are so helpful, when we have a big issue. You can look up half the time and you can see the chief of police (Kyle Westall) is standing there."

Stimac also raised concerns about the legal issues which run with the day-to-day operations of running a police force under the umbrella of the school district.

"This is just me but I'm not sure we need our own police force," Stimac said. "I see a lot of legalities there. We have the expertise of the police department, who cover most of this stuff for us. They know the law, they know the rules."

Farmington schools is in the process of organizing a district safety committee involving school officials and law enforcement to help deal with questions of school safety.

This panel would discuss the future of campus security and how extensive future projects should be. Stimac said the panel would handle most of the operations covered in the Senate bill.

"We have cameras, we have radios, we have all those things and they have been put in piece by piece and, to do it right, we believe all those need to be tied together," Stimac said.