The Newport Beach Police Department will add a school resource officer following the Newport-Mesa Unified School District board of trustees’ unanimous approval Tuesday of a new agreement with the department.
The new school resource officer, the third in Newport Beach, will be based at Ensign Intermediate School but also will cover all Newport elementary schools.
“When the officer is at school, there are an extra set of trained eyes and ears on the grounds,” said Newport Beach Police Chief Jon Lewis. “Another officer is another resource to address concerns or questions or to intervene if needed. But the biggest change day to day is that we have one more officer building relationships on our school campuses.”
Corona del Mar and Newport Harbor high schools have had school resource officers since 2000. Corona del Mar High will share its school resource officer with Corona del Mar Middle School.
Costa Mesa police will stick with the status quo of having two school resource officers patrol Costa Mesa and Estancia high schools.
“I’m grateful for the partnership with Newport Beach and Costa Mesa in protecting our campuses,” district board President Vicki Snell said. “I look forward to Costa Mesa being at full staff so they too can provide a third officer.”
The addition of an officer in Newport Beach follows an extensive safety review by Newport-Mesa officials in an effort to tighten security in the wake of school shootings like the one in February in Parkland, Fla.
Among the steps taken were visits to all 32 district campuses to assess fencing and other barriers to prevent unauthorized visitors. Teachers and other school staff members have been trained on how to use a districtwide emergency alert system called Titan. The district also has hired additional school psychologists to help students in need.
Newport Beach’s sworn, uniformed school resource officers act as liaisons among the Police Department, district administrators and the juvenile criminal justice system, according to the agreement.
They conduct preliminary and follow-up investigations of crimes on or near Newport Beach schools and help school administrators enforce the district’s code of conduct.
However, school officials remain responsible for disciplining students for conduct violations that don’t rise to criminal offenses.
The school district will fund half of the officers’ total compensation and, in return, officers will spend at least 75% of their time on and around their assigned campuses. For the 2018-19 fiscal year, the total compensation for one position ranges from $147,609 to $184,027, according to the agreement. That includes base salary, life insurance, retirement contributions and cafeteria, medical and uniform allowances.
Daniel Langhorne is a contributor to Times Community News.