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Commentary: School guards aren't just people off the streets

February 17, 2014|By Kent Moore

Recent comments by certain Newport-Mesa Unified School District board members concerning school resource personnel and security guards reflect little knowledge of the laws and qualifications necessary in providing proper school safety.

Throughout our state, public and private schools are kept safe in a variety of ways. Some schools utilize sworn law enforcement professionals known as school resource officers (SROs), while others use non-sworn security officers and security guards.

Some training programs are required by law, while others are optional. For instance, security guards are required to complete coursework, possess a Bureau of Safety and Investigative Services (BSIS) guard card and, if armed, complete additional training and credentialing.

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Naturally, all guards must pass a background check. It should also be mentioned that some security companies are more professional and maintain stricter hiring standards than others. And security guards cost far less than SROs or non-sworn security officers.

One board member's notion of taking a person with a clean record off the street, giving him a gun and putting him in schools and saying we have armed security is misleading to the public and shows a remarkable lack of understanding of the law and specific training as it applies to public and private schools.

This kind of talk might lead some to think of these particular security personnel as untrained rent-a-cops.

Nothing could be further than the truth. It's clear that these school trustees simply haven't done their homework on this vitally important subject.

No matter which types of safety personnel are used, they can absolutely be a strong deterrent to those who would seek to disrupt our schools. The fact that some Newport-Mesa schools have been without safety personnel is unacceptable.

Parents living in those particular attendance areas in the Westside should be very concerned about this rather unconscionable lack of security during those many months. If Costa Mesa was unable to provide SROs, school safety officers or security guards because of budget constraints, the school district should have stepped up and temporarily funded them to assure equal levels of safety.

This board of trustees and its superintendent need to take a more-reasoned approach to district problem-solving and make sure they get all the facts before making off-the-cuff public statements.

And this goes for the Daily Pilot too. It could have explained some of the confusing laws and regulations surrounding the use of school safety personnel.

Corona del Mar resident KENT MOORE is a member of the campus law enforcement training staff, Santa Ana College Criminal Justice Academies.

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