CVUSD Plans to Terminate at Least Half of Armed Officers on Campus to Budget Cuts

CVUSD Plans to Terminate at Least Half of Armed Officers on Campus to Budget Cuts

Max Rodriguez

The Coachella Valley Unified School District made several cuts before the end of the school year, over 60 teachers were laid-off as well as school bus drivers, but now the cuts are also reaching school safety with the agreement between the district and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office to have armed officers on campus possibly ending.

The CVUSD Assistant Superintendent, Erik Lee, first sent out a written notice to the sheriff’s office on May 15, to terminate the agreement between the district and its four school resource officers beginning on July 1. Lee tells KMIR News they are now re-thinking that cut and will petition the school board to keep at least two armed officers on campus.

Armed school resource officers differ from district security personnel, the officers are essentially sheriff’s deputy with the authority to carry a weapon, make arrests and patrol the surrounding area of the campus.

Yadira Gallardo is a mother of a special education student at Coachella Valley High School and she opposes eliminating armed officers from campus, especially after she found out her son was a victim of violence from his classmates.

Gallardo said, “He cried and he told me that they beat him inside the restroom and they threw him on the ground and they would step on his head.”

Unfortunately these days, fights among students are only one of the school resource officers’ worries, as active shooters continue to enter campuses all over the country.

Captain Misty Reynolds oversees the operations at the RCSO Thermal station; she said it is not the best timing to terminate at least half of the armed officers from CVUSD schools.

Reynolds said, “You see a lot of events in the media and there’s a lot of focus on weapons, violence in schools and safety, so no, probably the timing is not entirely the best.”

The original letter of termination obtained by KMIR News said lack of money is the reason the school district first decided to terminate the agreement with the school resource officers. But Lee said they are changing direction after the district learned that response times may be up to 20 minutes by going through 911 during an emergency.

Reynolds said, “There will be somewhat of a delayed response by our patrol staff because we do handle calls based on the priority to the community.”

Lee said an upcoming meeting with the school board will decide if they will maintain half of the armed officers on campus, along with the unarmed security personnel.

But that reduced security would still need to respond to, “Roughly we responded to about 1200 calls for service over the course of the last two years so about 600 calls for service a year,” Reynolds said.

During the two years of the agreement between the sheriff’s office and the district, SROs responded to 550 calls at Coachella Valley High School, 449 calls to Desert Mirage High School, 142 calls for service at Bobby Duke Middle School, and 148 calls to Cahuilla Desert Academy.

And all of these incidents make Gallardo worried for her children, especially with possibly losing armed officers on site to prevent them.

Gallardo said, “There’s a lot of kids who do harm, and if there’s a kid with a plan to do something, seeing a deputy may be deterrence.”

The school board will meet with CVUSD officials on July 12 to decide if they will keep two of the armed officers on campus or terminate the agreement all together.