In Vallejo, school superintendent Dr. Adam Clark believes it’s a bad move — at least here.
“I’ve watched closely … two sides to the argument … and I get both sides,” Clark said. “But we’ve had a wonderful relationship with the VPD. They’ve been very supportive. I don’t feel they’ve overstepped their boundary in any way and we work collaboratively to meet the needs of our community. I believe we have the same goals for our students.”
“We’re in a unique situation,” Clark said by phone Monday afternoon, with the district and police sharing the cost of two school resource officers.
“That way there’s one pretty much always working when the other one is off or going through training or doing other duties,” Clark said, adding that “the way it works, we don’t necessarily have a resource officer sitting at Vallejo High School all day or patrolling Jesse Bethel High School.”
A resource officer is available, “for example, if we get a report of graffiti on a Hogan (Middle School) girls’ bathroom that there’s going to be a shooting the next day at school,” Clark said. “We’ll call the VPD to investigate and they’ll send one of the resource officers.”
By having the same officers assigned to the district, “they’ve developed relationships with each of our principals,” Clark said.
Resource officers are also called in “when there has been a felony committed,” Clark continued. “We don’t call our officers if a student is being combative or refusing to give up a cell phone. We only call if there has been a threat or there’s a weapon involved or the community is in danger.”
An officer isn’t called if there’s a student-against-student fight that staff can handle, Clark said.
“But if a weapon is found during said fight or a student makes threats that they’re going to return with a weapon, we would call the police to handle,” Clark said.
What’s “being left out of this (removing campus officers) conversation is if you don’t have a school resource officer who is specifically trained to work with you and work with community issues, you’re going to receive a cop working a regular beat who may not have that training,” Clark said.
The resource officers are available to the entire district, the superintendent continued, and beyond enforcement, have delivered safety assemblies at elementary and middle schools “to create relationships with younger students.”
The resource officers, Clark reiterated, “have been a tremendous asset to us and have helped diffuse many situations. When we’ve had threats, we’re very pleased with the response from our partnership with the VPD.”
Clark acknowledged that “there is a feeling from some that by having police on campus … you’re going to involve law enforcement in a conflict that could be mitigated or dealt with by school personnel.”
The officers, Clark said, “are not there for discipline, not there to deal with students who are cutting school or talking back in the office. They are there to establish relationships with young people and to address felonies.”
Though “distance learning” had been the way of life since shelter-in-place, officers are still available for vandalism, break-ins, or welfare checks on students at their homes, Clark said.
“We still use them, though we don’t use them nearly the amount of a ‘regular’ school year,” Clark said.
The billing, he noted, “has been adjusted to reflect it. Adjustments have been made with our billing cycles.”
How much resource officers are involved when the Vallejo City Unified School District resumes Aug. 17 for the next school year is unclear, Clark said.
“What the pandemic has show us is that these things change by the hour, day, week, month,” Clark said.