Costa Mesa high schools to get police officer

Costa Mesa is once again bringing a police officer out of retirement to provide a law-enforcement presence at its two high schools.

Jess Gilman, a former school resource officer, or SRO, will start working at Costa Mesa and Estancia high schools, splitting his time between the campuses five days a week, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District announced Wednesday.

Gilman retired from the Costa Mesa Police Department in October, but returned on contract soon after to work at the high schools because the department didn't have a large enough staff to provide an SRO.

Less than a month after classes resumed this year, Gilman has agreed to fill in once again.

"There's a need for school resource officers in Newport-Mesa, and it wasn't being filled, and I'm going to fill in where I can," he said.

Newport Beach's high schools each have a dedicated SRO, but Costa Mesa's campuses had been without a dedicated police presence so far this year.

The district and Costa Mesa police had been using a stopgap program that directed patrol officers to spend as much time on the campuses as possible.

Gilman's presence will nullify that measure, district spokeswoman Laura Boss said.

Newport-Mesa Unified and Newport Beach split the cost of that city's SROs. Gilman's contract will be paid entirely by Costa Mesa's Police Department, according to the school district.

Gilman will be on duty through December as the school district and city develop a long-term plan, Boss said.

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