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Saturday, January 19 , 2019, 2:12 pm | Fair 71º


Santa Barbara Schools May Lose Police Resource Officer Position

The word is spreading around the Santa Barbara Unified School District community that the school resource officer position may be cut next year. A Santa Barbara police officer is based on the campus of Santa Barbara High School and available to all schools within the city.

Santa Barbara High Principal John Becchio and the school’s three assistant principals wrote a firm letter to the Santa Barbara City Council asking to keep a school resource officer on the 40-acre campus at 700 E. Anapamu St.

“Please understand that our schools depend on this vital link to law enforcement and it has a direct and sizable impact on the youth in our community,” they wrote.

The position gives campuses a sense of security and fosters relationships between police and the students, parents and staff, the letter said. SBHS officials asked for “unrelenting support” from the City Council to continue funding the resource officer position.

At a joint meeting Friday between SBUSD trustees and the City Council, school board member Monique Limón mentioned last week’s arrest of a Dos Pueblos High School student who allegedly made criminal threats to school staff members. The important role of a school resource officer/deputy was discussed a lot following that incident, Limón said. The DPHS resource deputy is partially funded by the City of Goleta.

Deputy Police Chief Frank Mannix said the position of school resource officer may be left vacant next year if the department has trouble recruiting replacements for its upcoming retirements, not because of funding.

The Santa Barbara Police Department has 140 of its 143 positions filled right now, but the department has struggled with keeping its operational staffing numbers high enough. Employees in training and on injury leave aren’t working (20 people right now), and Mannix said the department must cut back specialty positions to keep the patrol force fully staffed.

Santa Barbara High’s school resource officer could be one of those positions cut in the fall, since the department expects another 17 vacant positions from retirements, people leaving for other departments, and early medical retirements, he said.

“It’s not a budgetary issue — it’s an ability to hire issue,” Mannix said.

The decision can be re-evaluated in September when the school year starts, since Officer Christina Marshall won’t be working as a school resource officer during the summer anyway, he said.

Both the city and school district will finalize their budgets over the next two months.

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli 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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