The SRO program serves a student population of about 42,000 students in Oxnard’s four public school districts. The Police Department has one SRO assigned to each of Oxnard Union High School District’s (OUHSD) four (4) public high schools. These four (4) SRO’s are allocated full-time to their respective high schools and provide security and safety for the campus throughout the day. With a new 2018-19 school contract agreement with Oxnard School District, three (3) SRO’s now provide service to the OSD and the fourth SRO splits their time between Hueneme School District and selected schools from the Rio School District. SRO’s at these campuses now work a 4-day/10-hour work schedule to accommodate early morning traffic issues, and after school investigations.
SRO’s are assigned to schools on a long-term basis to provide enhanced services. The SRO’s also handle police service calls on and around school campuses, providing relief to patrol services. SRO’s assist school administrators in helping maintain a safe campus environment that is conducive to learning. SRO’s provide a visible presence to deter or identify trespassers on campus. School officials rely on the SRO’s training, knowledge and experience in handling situations involving weapons violations, or in the identification of controlled dangerous substances.
When dealing with minor criminal activity, SRO’s utilize juvenile diversion programs as an alternative to the minor entering formal juvenile justice system, which would occur if a formal arrest had been made. Minors with or without a record of a prior referral and who are suspected of less-serious offenses may qualify for the diversion process.
By providing on-going positive contact between officers and students, the SRO program seeks to bridge the gap between police officers and Oxnard youth. The collaboration between schools and the police bring together resources for students not available when the two entities work separately.
In 2018, the eight SRO’s handled:
- Approximately 1,400 calls for service related to school campuses
- Approximately 140 citations
- Over 2,200 parents and students were counseled by the SRO’s
- Approximately 140 presentations
- Approximately 40 lock down drills among 36 campuses
- Over 200 School Attendance Review Boards – SARB cases
- Over 400 crime and incident reports, with only 78 arrests throughout the year
- The SRO’s provided a safe learning environment for approximately 42,000 students within the four school districts within Oxnard
The following outlines several essential functions performed by the SRO Unit on a daily and on-going basis:
- Ensuring that all students, staff and campuses, are safe.
- Serving as a liaison between schools and the Police Department.
- Bridging the gap between law enforcement and youth.
- Deterring students from joining gangs, or making choices that lead to problems with drugs and/or alcohol.
- Handling criminal investigations that occur on campus. Often times, students report crimes to SRO’s that occurred off school grounds, (e.g., child abuse, domestic violence, thefts, threats, vandalism, drug and alcohol offenses, etc.) SRO’s routinely handle all aspects of the investigation which include, interviews, collection of evidence, follow up, arrest of suspect(s), report preparation, court testimony, and victim counseling.
- Ensuring that the educational process is not affected by outside disturbances. Examples of this are when crimes such as homicides, assaults, robberies or gang activity occur in neighborhoods surrounding schools, SRO’s work with other police units and school administrators to remedy these issues to limit student exposure.
- Enforcing criminal violations when necessary and appropriate. SRO’s use arrest/cites as a last resort. The majority of behavioral/disciplinary matters are handled by school officials at the school level. SRO’s may be consulted, and provide input on discipline matters, but the schools decide on the discipline.
- Working with school officials to ensure that their school safety plans are in place and that they suit the needs of the particular school. This includes lock down drills, evacuation procedures, and natural disaster planning.
- Participating in the School Attendance and Review Board (SARB) process. This includes: participating in hearings, working with families to find solutions to the truancy issues.
- Providing presentations to parents, students, and teachers on a variety of topics, this includes: bullying, cyber bullying, active shooter lock down drills, and drugs/alcohol. Of note, SRO’s lead the Every 15 Minutes program, Youth Academy, and The Parent Project throughout the school year.
- SRO’s are also involved in coaching youth sports to Oxnard students, specifically basketball at the high school level and other youth ages.
The SRO’s are involved in a number of programs that revolve around youth. A few of the highlights are described below:
Every 15 Minutes
The SRO’s, with the assistance of the Traffic Unit, Fire Department, AMR (paramedics), local tow companies, and Pacific Beverage Company, put on the Every 15 Minutes program at Hueneme High School. The program gets its name from the fact of every 15 minutes someone dies from an alcohol related collision.
It is a two-day anti-drinking and driving program that annually rotates from high school to high school. This year, Oxnard resident and vehicle collision survivor Andrew Hernandez spoke at the E15M assembly sharing his tragic story to hundreds of junior and senior students – very impactful.
The Youth Academy is a high school cass facilitated by the SRO program. Guest speakers include: patrol officers, detectives, crime scene investigators, a deputy district attorney, and other adults interested in the positive development of youth. An annual field trip to the Ventura County Jail is also a highlight for our young students. Two (2) Youth Academies are held per school year and it is open to students from all Oxnard Union High School campuses – this year, a total of 77 students completed the program.
Other Youth Programs and Engagement
SROs and the Community Affairs Office hosts its first Summer Youth Law Academy in July 2018 – excellent participation and youth interest.
Rio Del Norte Bullying Presentation 11/28/18
Patriot Day at Elm Street School
The Parent Project
The Parent Project is a parenting class for parents where they receive helpful tips on how to appropriately address adolescence and poor decision/behavior. The program consists of ten, three hour classes that help parents deal with alcohol and drug use, teen sex, truancy, run away, defiance, and more. The Parent Project instructs that consistent consequences, good or bad, help the child make his or her own choice to grow and change. In 2018, about 20 parents attended and completed the fall program. The Parent Project is currently taught in conjunction with the Oxnard Union High School District.
Heroes and Helpers
The SRO program, along with Fire Department’s Amy Van Atta, coordinates this event every year for the last eight seasons. This year’s event was extremely successful due to the extraordinary donations and support the event received. These donations allowed the event to invite over 30 students from Oxnard schools. Oxnard Police, Fire, and other civilian staff members, joined Oxnard students for a $200 shopping spree at Target at The Collection. This event truly brings the holiday spirit alive and gives those selected families a Christmas they won’t soon forget.
Crime Stoppers – The SRO Unit continues to maintain a strong working relationship with the Scholastic Crime Stoppers program. SRO Martin is the police department’s liaison. He attends monthly meetings with the Crime Stoppers Board interacting with other agency liaisons. Through the 2018 calendar year, SRO Martin rewarded students for their reported crimes – about $2500 for their efforts and information.
The Oxnard Police Activities League (PAL) is a city-wide after-school crime prevention program designed to build positive relationships between youth, police officers and the community. Recreational, educational, enrichment and mentoring programs are offered to youth ages 7 to 18.
The objectives of Oxnard PAL are:
- To provide youth an opportunity to grow under the sustained guidance of dedicated adults
- To instill in youth a respect and understanding for law enforcement and for the laws they uphold
- To assist youth in developing self-esteem and provide them with skills to help them stay in school
- To involve police, parents and community volunteers in a personal commitment of time and energy to the youth of the community
Year after year, SRO’s help facilitate youth programs that are organized out of the PAL Facility and are regularly involved in coaching PAL sports teams. In June 2018, SRO’s facilitated a week long basketball camp for youth summer basketball – coordinated and instructed by Officer Kevin Thompson!
Active Lockdown Drill at Oxnard High School
On March 14, 2018, Oxnard High School held its first Active Lockdown Drill. The drill was designed to give staff and students the opportunity to react to a Priority One lockdown scenario involving an intruder/actor on campus. The actor was clearly identifiable by the bright yellow safety vest he was wearing as he walked through the campus hallways, checking classroom door handles, windows, etc.
The scenario event went well as it was discovered that some staff members were unsure of what to do. A debrief was held immediately after for all who participated in the drill. A meaningful discussion was facilitated among campus supervisors, administration personnel, and the SROs. These Active Lockdown Drills will be conducted at every OUHSD campus throughout the 2019 school year.
2019 Goals for the SRO Unit include the following:
- Collaborate with school officials to ensure every campus is up to date on safety procedures and execution of Priority 1 and 2 lockdown drills.
- FTO program implementation – Instruct a Post Academy training block, offer SRO week of training
- Utilizing OUHSD funds to enhance security at campuses (e.g. surveillance cameras, rifle gun safes as recommended by district)
- In collaboration with NPT, host Community Safety Meeting seminars similar to recent FPU seminars- for parents/community leaders/youth on Active Assailant responses, in relation to churches, malls, large scale events, etc.
- Implementation of California DOJ Tobacco Grant which expires in 2021.