The Coast News Group
School Resource Officer Justin Romano is stationed at Oceanside High School. Officers have been on Oceanside school campuses for 25 years. Photo by Promise Yee
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School resource officers funded for two more years

OCEANSIDE — School resource officers have been on Oceanside campuses for 25 years, and City Council approved funding for two more school years Aug. 19.

Four full-time school resource officers will serve Oceanside schools.

A payment agreement was also approved for one officer to serve Vista schools.

School resource officers provide safety, and bridge communication with the community.

Daily duties include patrolling schools and surrounding neighborhoods, truancy checks and law enforcement on campuses.

Their No. 1 job is to provide safety and peace of mind for students and faculty.

“SROs on campus are a deterrent,” Tim Ware, Oceanside Unified School District intervention manager and liaison to school resource officers, said. “Do they stop all negative behaviors? No. At least kids have a chance to think about it, ‘I can get caught by this guy.’”

Officers help school sites develop safety and crisis preparedness plans. They train staff and students in lockdown drills. They also track down and deal with cyber threats posted on social media.

Additionally they provide security at football games, graduations and high school proms, where they dress in formalwear.

“They have their hands in a lot of things,” Ware said. “They are attached to the community.”

Another role of officers is to establish relationships with students and school staff, in order to foster communication and curtail violence, drug dealing and illegal use, and crime on and off campus.

“They balance understanding the operations of schools and the law enforcement part,” Ware said. “It’s a very delicate balance. They do a very good job at that.”

They also serve as role models and mentors to students, and a resource for teachers and parents.

“It’s vastly different than 20 years ago, there are a number of ethnic makeups,” Police Lt. Leonard Cosby said. “They communicate in a variety of ways with different cultures. Through relationships they become human to students, they’re an officer with a name.”

Ware said their service makes a difference.

“It’s all about relationships that are transformational,” Ware said. “Kids come up to talk to them and know its someone that has their best interest in mind.

“It’s all about communication, trust and information. When they’re around the campus is better for kids.”

Their offices are located at Oceanside High School, El Camino High School and West Shores High School. Officers serve all Oceanside school sites.

The city and school district split the cost of school resource officers. Grant funds pay part of one officer’s salary. The city portion of the cost is $319,899 for 2015 to 2016, and $329,572 for 2016 to 2017.

Vista Unified School District pays the full cost for an officer based at Mission Vista High School in Vista. The cost is $175,899 for 2015 to 2016, and $181,395 for 2016 to 2017.