Santa Barbara High School’s new school resource officer arrested an alleged drug dealer on the first day of school, police said.
Officer Christina Marshall is stationed at Santa Barbara High, but is available to help every school within the city limits.
As students come back to school, Marshall patrols the campus, counsels students, and responds to crimes on campus or near campus.
Around 11:15 a.m. Monday, a Santa Barbara High School staff member told Marshall there was a man causing a disturbance and challenging staff members to fight.
The suspect, 19-year-old Christian Ariel Hernandez, is a former student and Eastside gang associate, according to Sgt. Riley Harwood.
He said Hernandez fled down Nopal Street on his skateboard when Marshall tried to contact him but was stopped a block away by Marshall and school staff.
He was arrested on charges of resisting or delaying an officer and disturbing the peace.
According to Harwood, Marshall found that Hernandez was armed with a knife and had a scale, two plastic containers of marijuana, cash — mostly $20 bills — and bindles (very small, usually single-use packages) of cocaine and marijuana.
Harwood said the marijuana, scale, cash, knife and lack of smoking paraphernalia indicates that Hernandez was selling marijuana on campus.
Hernandez was booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail on $20,000 bail for felony possession of marijuana for sale, felony possession of cocaine, felony possession of cocaine within 1,000 feet of school grounds, and felony possession of a weapon on school grounds, misdemeanor possession of marijuana on school grounds and misdemeanor resisting or delaying an officer.
There hasn’t been a school resource officer for Santa Barbara’s schools for years, so Marshall is spending lots of time introducing herself at the different schools.
“I’ve basically just been a presence, patrolling around the school and letting people know I’m here now,” she said.
In her first weeks of work, Marshall has made arrests related to a fight on a school campus, met with truant students, issued citations and helped police deal with a missing teenager who tried to register herself for school on Monday.
“The presence of the school resource officer on campus is so beneficial to our school culture,” Santa Barbara High School Principal John Becchio said Wednesday. “Officer Marshall has done an excellent job at connecting with our school community in the first few days of school. We are grateful to Chief Cam Sanchez and the SBPD for supporting our schools by allocating such a valuable resource to us.”