While I applaud her call to "think outside the box and make sure we
get more bang for the buck," I think we're doing just that with our
school resource officer program. It is truly a partnership with our
school community, both financially and operationally.
Our school campuses are not unlike small communities unto themselves.
Along with that comes the potential for behaviors and events -- those of
students, on-campus guests and others -- that can be disruptive to the
educational environment or even dangerous to the campus community. While
it is true our schools are statistically safe, one need look no further
than the headlines of today's newspapers to understand the safety of
students and faculty -- even the surrounding neighborhoods -- are
concerns that should not be ignored.
As the superintendent of Newport-Mesa schools said in response to the
San Diego school shooting Monday: "We do everything we can at the front
end. There's no guarantee in this world." Our belief is that an effective
school resource officer program is just one more very important component
in our combined effort to maintain both an atmosphere and the reality of
safety on our school campuses.
It is important to understand, however, that the school resource
officer program has much more depth than just campus security issues.
Patterned after similar successful programs in use throughout the nation,
the officer serves as a positive role model for young people and is a law
enforcement contact for students, faculty and parents. We already know
from our recent experiences with this program that the informal
interactions with police officers on campus create new friendships,
mentoring relationships and provide another visible resource for students
and others seeking assistance with a wide variety of problems.
Officer Steve Martinez is our school resource officer at Newport
Harbor High School, the largest school in the district with a student
population equally divided between Costa Mesa and Newport Beach