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(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today released a statewide survey on the use of law enforcement/school partnerships on California middle and high school campuses. Lockyer released the report at Sacramento's Encina High School, which uses both a probation officer and Sheriffs' deputy as a school resource officer for students.
"Maintaining our children's safety on and off campus should be our highest priority," Lockyer said. "Hundreds of schools throughout California have sought to protect student safety, improve attendance rates and provide counseling services to their students through the use of a probation or other law enforcement officer on their campus. I support these efforts to help our children learn and grow in a safer and better school environment."
While serving as the leader of the California Senate several years ago, Lockyer learned of an innovative program being used successfully in the Central Valley that partnered law enforcement agencies with schools to improve school safety and student performance. After his election as Attorney General, Lockyer made school safety one of his top priorities and joined with Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin to create a School Safety Task Force. Through his work with the task force, Attorney General Lockyer discovered no comprehensive survey had been done to determine how many schools use law enforcement/school partnerships.
After contacting each of the 2,033 middle and high schools in California, the Attorney General's survey found that there are 1,093 school resource officers working at least part-time at selected campuses. Sixty-three percent of the state's high schools have sworn officers working on campus for at least some portion of the week. Of those high schools, 38 percent have an officer on campus full-time and 25 percent have an officer part-time. Thirty-nine percent of California's middle schools have a sworn officer on campus, with 11 percent working full-time and 28 percent working part-time.
The survey found that most law enforcement/school partnerships were carefully tailored to meet the particular needs of the campus, its students and the surrounding neighborhoods. One successful approach used by 197 schools in 34 different counties involves the use of probation officers on campus. This approach allows probation officers to not only work with young probationers, but also to intervene with at-risk students, teach classes, serve as counselors, mediate conflicts and facilitate communication between law enforcement agencies.
At Encina High School, a full-time probation officer has been working with students on campus for about four years. The probation officer not only interacts with first-time offenders in the program, but also with other at-risk youth by conducting home visits, teaching conflict resolution classes and other outreach activities. Last December, the school gained an additional resource when Sacramento Sheriff Lou Blanas announced plans to assign school resource officers from the Sheriff's Department to Encina and high schools throughout the county to work with at-risk students and help reduce on-campus violence.
The Attorney General's survey also found that those schools who have active partnerships with law enforcement on their campuses have found them to be successful in creating a safer learning environment and improving student performance. Unfortunately, many schools reported that they had been forced to terminate or scale-back their partnerships with law enforcement due to a lack of funding. In response to the survey's findings, Attorney General Lockyer is working with Senators Dede Alpert and Jackie Speier on legislation (SB 1580) to help fund law enforcement-school partnerships.