The last person a high schooler would typically befriend is a cop. But the works to change students’ misperceptions of police officers by providing a constant presence as a resource rather than disciplinarian.
The school resource officer (SRO) program stations one full-time officer at and a part-time officer at and one at . Their duties range from handling truancies to ensuring the safety of the campus.
“You don’t treat them any differently,” Sequoia High school resource officer Roman Gomez said of students. “If I treat them like an adult, I get better responses from them.”
The program has been in existence for more than a dozen years, forging relationships between officers and teens. Gomez will begin his second year of the three-year SRO assignment. He previously was the Kennedy Middle School SRO and applied for the high school position when it opened up.
“I call them young adults, not kids,” Gomez said. “They have to be responsible for their own actions.”
Though Gomez is on campus 40 hours a week, it is the administration’s discretion to involve the police in any situation.
The police department has truancy officers who make home visits to work with parents to get a student back into the classroom. These officers can issue citations for habitual offenders, something the district cannot do. The first call is a warning, but the second can result in a fine issued by a county judge.
When asked if frequent calls to the police department could be seen as a shifting of responsibility from the school to the police, Redwood City School District Deputy Superintendent John Baker said, “We involve police as a last possible remedy.” Often times, these are extreme situations involving defiant students.
Despite these isolated incidents, Gomez said relations between officers and students are good.
Baker added that to the police department was in fact an indicator of the close relationship.
“It gives students a different look at officers,” Gomez said. “We’re not just always there to give a citation or take them into custody. We’re there to help.”