Santa Maria Police updating School Resource Officer program

Five officers dedicated to daily campus patrol

Santa Maria Police update School Resource Officer program

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - For decades the Santa Maria Police Department has worked with local school districts in providing School Resource Officers at high school, middle school and elementary school campuses in the city.

SMPD is constantly re-evaluating, updating and modifying the SRO program that provides safety and security to more than 22,000 students on a daily basis and and continues to do so.

The department currently dedicates five, full-time officers to the high school, middle school and elementary school campuses in the city every day.

Students we spoke with say they feel safer coming to school knowing the School Resource Officer is there.

"Because they are here protecting us, watching over us, making sure that nobody is coming in", said Pioneer Valley High School student Jesenia Clavel Monday afternoon.

"It's been around for probably two or three decades now", said SMPD Lt. Russ Mengel about the School Resource Officer program, "it's always going through some changes to improve the service we're providing and we're also making sure the students are benefiting in many ways from the presence of the School Resource Officers."

In the immediate aftermath of the Florida school shooting, local reaction to social media threats at local high school campuses, deemed not credible by law enforcement, revealed community concern about campus safety.

SMPD says its continues to prepare, train and adapt for what it hopes will never happen locally.

"Here at the Santa Maria Police Department we just pushed a new set of instructors through a training class at the start of February to make sure that we're doing things right", said Lt. Mengel, "we want to take a fresh look at what we've anticipated, what our response will be and make sure it's up to par."

"If there was a case here I think they would be able to stop it because we have gates and no one can get out or in from the campus", said PVHS student Diana Escobar, "since we have a police officer here, he can, it cannot get worse then how it got in Florida."

Local school districts pay for most of the School Resource Officer program.

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