Kelly Moore
Kelly Moore has begun his new job as the safety coordinator for the Santa Barbara Unified School District. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Working in law enforcement is a job Kelly Moore aspired to as a child.

“When you’re a kid, and mom asks what you want to be when you grow up — ‘I want to be a police officer,’” Moore said. “That stuck with me all the way through.” 

With young learners across Santa Barbara County back in the classroom this fall, school safety is on the minds of many people. That’s why there’s a new safety coordinator post for the Santa Barbara Unified School District.

In July, Moore assumed that position, which was approved by the district board of education a month earlier.

“My role is looking at safety plans and assessing them — so parents feel safe bringing their kids to school, kids feel safe, teachers feel safe, and the community surrounding the actual campus feels safe,” Moore told Noozhawk

He is tasked with assessing current campus safety practices and enhancing emergency response, as well as developing a long-term and collaborative districtwide practice.

“It’s an all-hazards plan, but it also incorporates a safe environment,” Moore said. “My first priorities are the safety plan and training, in connection with the safety plan.

“They are the same plans and same framework, administered at the grade-appropriate level,” Moore continued. “The communications are different based upon the individual school sites, but the plan and the goal of the plan will be the same for the district.”

School policies are set forth to provide a safe learning environment for students and staff under the California Education Code, said SBUSD spokeswoman Lauren Bianchi Klemann. 

Receiving approval from the district’s governing board is required for any tweaks to safety protocols. The majority of the additional safety improvements are expected for the 2019-20 school year. 

“There’s a need for us to push out some protocols now,” Moore said. “We are going to start standardizing our protocols and getting the information pushed out to the faculty, staff, students and parents.” 

The school board spoke of the safety coordinator position in 2017, before San Marcos High School near Goleta had incidents of threatening graffiti, online threats and a student who reportedly set off a firework on the campus at 4750 Hollister Ave..

“School safety is paramount for our board,” said Jacqueline Reid, president of the school board. “It’s for this reason that we unanimously voted to do something historic at Santa Barbara Unified School District. We created the first-ever safety coordinator position last fall.”

The selection of Moore followed a collaborative and competitive interview process comprised of more than 20 people representing a variety of district and school staff, as well as a Santa Barbara Police Department detective and a parent representative.

Reid said the selection of Moore “was a natural fit that has enabled the district to utilize a professional expert in emergency management to help facilitate taking existing school safety practices to the next level, district-wide.”

As safety coordinator, Moore will bridge any communication gaps between the schools and law enforcement, especially in the area of educating the school system on how to communicate if a student or staff is involved either indirectly or directly in an incident. 

“This is bringing people together: fire, law enforcement and medical — so that we are all speaking the same language, from a school’s perspective,” Moore said. “If they understand what we are doing — and we are all talking the same language — the school faculty and staff can communicate intelligently to give the right situation report.”

Training and evaluations of site needs are also pro-active steps that the district is taking to enhance school safety. 

“Fear is a product of the unknown, so the more that we can push out to people, the better informed they are, and the less fear and less concern they have,” Moore said.

Born in Santa Barbara, Moore received his bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Phoenix and a FBI National Academy Certificate of Completion from the University of Virginia. 

Before the safety coordinator position, Moore was promoted to the commander with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, and assigned to the South County Operations Division, where he managed all operational functions for South County. 

He joined the Sheriff’s Office in 1984 as a corrections officer, then joined the Carpinteria Police Department in 1986.

In 1992, he returned to the Sheriff’s Office, where he was assigned as a detective, a member of the Gang Enforcement Team, a narcotics detective, an academy staff officer and a human resource investigator. 

He also worked as the emergency services manager for the Sheriff’s Office, where he was responsible for the management and coordination of emergency planning and response.

Moore coordinated the Sheriff’s Department response for natural disasters, as well as large-scale criminal acts and the preparation of annual unsanctioned events such as Deltopia and Halloween celebrations in Isla Vista.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.