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Tuesday, March 26 , 2019, 12:35 am | Fair 49º


It’s a Homecoming for New School Resource Deputy at San Marcos High School

Jaycee Hunter will work full time at the campus near Goleta, which is his alma mater

Sheriff’s deputy and patrol car Click to view larger
Jaycee Hunter has returned to his alma mater, San Marcos High School, as the school resource deputy. (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department photo)

More than 30 years ago, while meandering the hallways at San Marcos High School, Jaycee Hunter found his calling.

“I struck up a conversation with him,” Hunter said of the Santa Barbara Police Department officer. “I started off my career in law enforcement by talking to a cop at school.”

Hunter, announced as the Santa Barbara County sheriff's deputy becoming the full-time San Marcos High resource deputy, feels his new job could help the next generation stay on the path to success.

“I wanted to be that cop that had an incidental contact with a young person and changes their life,” Hunter said.

The 33-year law enforcement veteran is returning to work at his alma mater near Goleta.

He graduated from San Marcos in 1984, and married his high school sweetheart. He played baritone saxophone during his three years at San Marcos, and spent countless hours in the campus band room.

“When I walked back into the room for the first time... you get hit by a wall of nostalgia,” he said. 

Hunter sees his new role clearly: “My focus is on providing law enforcement services to the community.”

High school senior photo Click to view larger
Jaycee Hunter’s senior photo at San Marcos High. (Contributed photo)

As morning classes began on a recent Tuesday, Hunter headed out to walk the hallways and greet students with a smile.

“Hello,” he said as a student passes.

Hunter is a school resource deputy who drives an official S.U.V., wears a bulletproof vest and a standard utility belt with a department-issued sidearm, two magazines, cuffs and a radio clipped onto his duty belts.

“My biggest and best tool of force is my ability to communicate,” he said. “When you have somebody right here (on campus) and ready to go, the response time is going to be great."

He spent most of his career with the Santa Barbara Police Department, where he worked as a dispatcher, as a patrol officer, in major crimes, on cold cases and as a traffic investigator.

Sheriff’s deputy in front of school. Click to view larger
Jaycee Hunter has returned to his alma mater, San Marcos High School, as the school resource deputy. (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department photo)

Hunter’s law enforcement resume includes eight years as a bilingual major crimes investigator.

In his new job, the multilingual deputy has found a way to connect with the school’s Spanish-speaking families.

“It’s convenient to call the parents…and I hear a pause…then I ask if they speak Spanish,” he said. 

He also can communicate with students for whom English is a second language.

“My abilities in Spanish are useful for finding out what happened and to develop a rapport with the young person,” Hunter said. “While they communicate in English in class, when it’s a heated situation, it’s much easier to communicate, and the emotions they are going through in their native language.”

As a SRD, he also oversees events on the campus, school dances and athletic games.

“Being part of those special events is providing the routine cop presence and part of developing the relationship with the school community,” Hunter said. “Plus, they are fun.”

His duties range from acting as a liaison between law enforcement, school administrators, students and parents, as well as settling disputes and providing information to the appropriate investigative units to issuing Santa Barbara Teen Court (a program of the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse) tickets for marijuana, e-cigarettes and alcohol offenses, among other duties.

During his law enforcement career in the 1990s, Hunter worked six years for the Santa Barbara Police Department's D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), an education program that seeks to prevent the use of controlled drugs, membership in gangs, and violent behavior.

“I got a lot of experience interacting with young people,” he said of the program.

In 2016, the Sheriff’s Depaartment hired Hunter, and he served as a field training officer until his recent promotion.

The presence of a school resource deputy is due to the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s approval for the placement and funding for the job, effective July 1 through June 30, 2019. 

San Marcos was the only Santa Barbara Unified high school that didn’t have a law enforcement officer or deputy on campus in the 2017-18 academic year because the county Board of Supervisors announced it could no longer fund the position.

The new sworn law enforcement official hire comes months after the high school had incidents of threatening graffiti scrawled on the 4750 Hollister Ave. campus, online threats, and a student who reportedly set off a firework.

Hunter had been on campus since April, and remained until the current school year was complete.

More than 2,000 students and a couple hundred employees will walk the halls when the school year begins in August.

Frann Wageneck, assistant superintendent of student services and a San Marcos alumna, said an officer's presence would make the school safer and more secure.

“That’s the size of a small town,” Wageneck said of the campus. “Law enforcement is necessary to keep people safe. Having someone who is a familiar presence on campus to the students and staff is important.”

Hunter is among Santa Barbara Unified’s three sworn police officers or deputies who are employed by law enforcement agencies and receive the same certification process as other police officers.

“He has had a good calming presence on the campus,” Wageneck said. “It does matter that he’s an alumnus. There’s a special place in his heart for San Marcos.”

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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