Sergeant Brian Chesmore of the Santa Ana Unified School District Police Department gave Solutions by Sector webinar attendees an overview of the department, including information on School Resource Officers, the Traffic Division, the Investigations Division, the District Safety Officers, the district’s Gang Reduction Intervention Partnership (GRIP), the Terrorism Liaison Officer Program, the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Program and the Explorer Post 490 program.
The Santa Ana School Police Department is the third largest school police agency in the State of California, while at the same time serving the 6th largest school district in the State and the largest in the County of Orange. The Santa Ana School Police Department is an approved agency in accordance to the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.) and the primary law enforcement agency for the Santa Ana Unified School District.
The police department consists of 26 sworn peace officers, four full-time dispatchers and 38 civilian District Safety Officers and professional office staff. The Department provides 24-hour a day service to over 56,000 students and 4,650 staff members at 61 schools and various District locations. In 2011, School Police personnel handled 12,487 incidents, covering 24 of the 27 square miles located within the City of Santa Ana.
The department operates under a traditional law enforcement table of organization. Headed by a Chief of Police, the department has one Lieutenant and five Sergeants who handle the operational and administrative duties of the agency. Two motorcycle officers handle traffic related concerns on and around schools and eight School Resource Officers are assigned to comprehensive high schools providing a high profile police presence and invaluable resource for students and staff. The department also has a certified Reserve Officer Corps Program and a recognized Terrorism Liaison Officer Program through the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center.
School Resource Officers
The core responsibility of School Resource Officers (SRO) is to provide for the safety of students and staff at assigned schools. Each SRO is assigned a primary home school, typically a traditional high school campus, and is also responsible when needed at respective feeder intermediate and elementary schools.
School Resource Officers work closely with site administration and District Safety Officers on a variety of criminal and non-criminal safety and security concerns. They advise site administration on appropriate security and emergency preparedness response plans to threats of violence
As a first responder, they provide sound leadership to school site security teams which consist of: Administrators, School Resource Officer and District Safety Officers.
The SRO serves and the single most visible representative of the police department. They serve in a critical community relation ambassador role. The goal of the SRO on campus, in part, focuses on establishing quality relationships with students. This investment, within the context of an educational environment, will allow students the opportunity to become leaders of tomorrow.
The department also provides contract police services to Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) which includes an onsite school resource officer.
Patrol officers work closely with members of other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Enhancing an interoperability strategy, patrol officers work particularly close with City of Santa Ana Police Department patrol officers on a variety of mutual field responses. Patrol officers from both departments have been recognized for their effectiveness in working collaboratively to resolve calls for service and developing substantive criminal intelligence for follow-up case resolution
Santa Ana School Police Officers also conduct public relations programs and functions in the community such as anti-bullying presentations, bicycle safety programs, alcohol/drug prevention outreach and gang resistance through the Gang Reduction Intervention Partnership (GRIP).
Within a deep rooted Community Oriented Policing framework, combined with responsive, proactive traditional policing efforts, patrol officers are vital service providers for protecting life and property within the School District and the Santa Ana community. Patrol officers work closely with members of other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Enhancing an interoperability strategy, patrol officers work particularly close with City of Santa Ana Police Department patrol officers on a variety of mutual field responses. Patrol officers from both departments have been recognized for their effectiveness in working collaboratively to resolve calls for service and developing substantive criminal intelligence for follow-up case resolution.
Vehicular and pedestrian safety are of paramount concern to everyone in the Santa Ana Unified School District and to members of the community at large. Motorcycle officers are deployed to provide traffic enforcement operations around school sites and district facilities. Tasked with facilitating traffic safety, motor officers work directly with school staff and students, in an inclusive effort to provide a safe and efficient flow of traffic
Santa Ana School Police motor officers must complete a pre-motorcycle riding course, followed by successful completion of a California Peace Officer Standards and Training certified motorcycle riding course. Santa Ana School Police motor officers routinely train on the motorcycles to improve and maintain their riding skills
Members of the Traffic Division, utilize what is commonly referred to as the three “E’s” (Education, Enforcement and Engineering) of traffic enforcement to promote a safe school community.
Education: Motorcycle officers often participate in classroom instruction to provide traffic safety tips to students, parents, and staff to heighten awareness and promote a safe school community. Enforcement: Motorcycle officers enforce all the rules of roadway in and around schools. Enforcement is used to gain compliance to encourage everyone to abide by the rules of road. Engineering: Schools have different traffic related concerns that are site specific based on geography, physical design and relation to residential and commercial environments. Traffic Division personnel often meet with school staff to address site specific concerns. They also provide assessments for the safest possible routes into and exiting school campuses to maximize the safety of students and staff. Motorcycle officers collaborate with School District Facilities representatives, City of Santa Ana Public Works and Santa Ana Police Department Traffic Division supervisors to identify the most efficient routes on or around schools, with safety of the children as the upmost concern.
The mission of the Investigations Unit is to provide prompt, professional and effective investigative services to solve crimes and reduce the risk of future crimes from occurring on school sites. This is accomplished with proactive criminal investigations and conducting follow-up investigations on all criminal and non-criminal offenses as directed
Officers assigned to the Investigations Unit work closely with local, county, state and federal agencies to identify criminal suspects and respond to crime trends. The Investigations Unit is responsible for maintaining a liaison with local courts and the district attorney’s office. A close working relationship is maintained with the City of Santa Ana Police Department Investigations Bureau for case resolution and increased interoperability.
Unit Investigators are responsible for conducting personnel history background investigations on all police officer applicants for the School Police Department. Volunteers requesting to provide assistance to the School District are also checked by the Investigations Unit. Maintenance of training records for all school police officers in accordance with compliance standards established by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training are managed by the Investigations Unit.
In addition to investigations of criminal offenses, the Investigations Unit is also available to assist school site administrators in conflict resolution to maintain a safe and problem free school environment.
District Safety Officers
The responsibility and purpose of District Safety Officer is to promote and maintain a safe environment for students and staff of the Santa Ana School District. District Safety Officers provide important security services, making it possible for all members of the School District to participate in academic and extra-curricular activities on all campuses
District Safety Officers are generally deployed to all high schools, intermediate schools and the truancy center. District Safety Officers are responsible for security concerns on and around the immediate perimeter of school campuses, District facilities and assigned events.
The Communications Center for the Santa Ana Unified School District Police Department is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week with four full-time and several part-time highly-trained public safety dispatchers. The Communications Center manages communications for 36 elementary schools, 9 intermediate schools, 9 high schools and 15 other District facilities covering 24 densely populated square miles in the Santa Ana Unified School District.
The Communications Center serves as the critical link between the School District and local and regional public safety emergency and non-emergency responders. Communications Center staff members are committed and trained to acquire and disperse pertinent information to help protect life, property, and the students and personnel of the Santa Ana Unified School District
Communications personnel receive and enter data into the California Law Enforcement Teletype System (CLETS), National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (NLETS) and various other local, state and federal law enforcement data systems. Public Safety Dispatchers monitor and serve as the lead dispatch responsibility for crimes in progress, reported crimes, traffic flow, burglary and fire alarm activation and a wide range of non-emergency calls for assistance. The Santa Ana Unified School District Police Department utilizes the 800MHz radio system and is a member of the Countywide Coordinated Communications System.
Gang Reduction Intervention Partnership (GRIP)
The Santa Ana Unified School District School Police Department entered into a Gang Prevention and Intervention Partnership (GRIP) with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA), Orange County Probation Department, and Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) aimed at keeping youth in school and out of gangs.
Through the GRIP initiative, partners identify at-risk youth (4th – 8th grade students) in Santa Ana and work to increase their school attendance and discourage participation in gang activity. Santa Ana GRIP partners collaborate to host informational parent, student, and faculty meetings, conduct curfew sweeps in high-volume gang activity areas, and perform truancy sweeps at homes of students with excessive absences. GRIP incentives such as tickets to professional sporting events are offered to students who improve their attendance and grades and complete the school year with no gang activity or affiliation
In September 2011, the educational component of the program – GRIP II was implemented county-wide. This component includes OCDA staff members volunteering their time to conduct school faculty presentations on how to mentor at-risk students. Through an on-campus parent-greeter program, volunteers train parents on how to keep neighborhoods safe and gang-free through neighborhood watch. The OCDA volunteers, along with police and probation officers, also give student presentations to at-risk youth regarding negative consequences of joining gangs and the positive effects of staying in school.
Terrorism Liaison Officer Program
The TLO program consists of one TLO coordinator and seven TLO’s. All TLO’s receive training through the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center (OCIAC). All TLO’s work together in collaboration with other agencies throughout the county to share and exchange information regarding possible threats.
Once intelligence is gathered it is reported to the regional fusion center or JRIC Joint Regional Intelligence Center.
Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Program
The department is the first in the county to cross train it’s officers as EMTs. The purpose is to have first responders render the necessary aid in any situation ranging from active shooter to medical emergency
EMT trained officers are equipped with all of the necessary equipment needed to perform basic life saving/stabilizing assistance.
Explorer Post 490
Explorers learn about the law, court procedures, police patrol techniques, and organizational skills. Upon meeting requirements of the Explorer Program, Explorers are allowed to ride along in the field with a patrol officer, respond to police calls, participate in normal routines of community policing, and interact with the public. This provides an opportunity for Explorers to get a first-hand perspective of the reality of modern law enforcement. The Explorer Program is co-educational, developed and supervised by law enforcement officers and provides members with opportunities to explore a career in law enforcement.
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