Armed officers at Bay Area schools

- In light of the most recent shooting at a school in Maryland where a school resource officer engaged a student shooter, KTVU learned several major Bay Area school districts are equipped with school resource officers.

School resource officers are sworn, armed officer employed by a city police department and assigned to a school in their area. 

Oakland Unified School District is the only Bay Area school district to have its own police department. OUSD Police Chief Jeff Godown said he has about 100 unarmed civilian school security officers assigned to schools within the district. He also has under 20 sworn, armed police officers who work for the district and respond to calls on campus.

“I’d like to have armed police officers on campus but I’ll tell you a lot of the general public would push back on that,” he said. “Even though I don’t have a uniformed officer sitting in the school, they’re a couple of minutes away because they’re dedicated to the school system.”

The following school districts have armed school resource officers dedicated to high schools in their region. Some SROs are also assigned to middle school and elementary schools.

San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD also employs security guards who are unarmed)
San Jose Unified School District
Fremont Unified School District
Mt. Diablo Unified School District 
San Ramon Valley Unified School District
West Contra Costa County Unified School District

The Novato Unified School District said they do not have armed guards, but they do contract with North Bay Security Group employees who check in with all of their schools at least once a day and are “on-call” to help with many situations, according to district spokeswoman Leslie Benjamin.

Ursula Leimbach, spokeswoman for the Mt. Diablo Unified School District said, said they have a partnership with Concord PD, Walnut Creek PD, and the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Dept. for schools in Bay Point. 

“We feel fortunate to have public safety agencies and first responders share our goals for keeping our schools and communities safe and secure,” Leimbach said. “The SROs become integral parts of their respective school communities at a number of levels.”

In West Contra Costa County, district spokesman Marcus Walton said the district recently passed a Positive School Climate Resolution, which includes collecting data on the effectiveness and actions of school resource officers.

“There are those who want to see them gone, but there are plenty who want to see them stay and remain,” Walton said. “All we’re doing at this point is collecting data and getting information so the superintendent can make an informed decision about a recommendation for the school board.”

Godown said whether campuses have armed police officers or unarmed guards, the ultimate goal is to keep students and staff safe. He said he’d like to have armed police officers on every campus, it is not cost effective, nor is the idea of installing metal detectors at schools.

“As long as you only have one way in and out it would work perfectly, but when you have a school that’s built for the community to come to school, multiple entrances and exits, it would just be too expensive,” he said.

The California Department of Education does not track how many districts have armed officers on campus, but said it is up to the individual decision of districts to have school resource officers.

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