Double Duty

Monterey Peninsula Unified School District trustee Debra Gramespacher opposed the continuation of the SRO program.

Last year, the driving questions about stopping or renewing agreements to keep police officers in Monterey Peninsula Unified School District schools were less about safety and more about money. The district was spending $250,000 a year, splitting the costs between the cities of Marina, Seaside and Monterey. The board agreed to fund the program for one more year, in addition to collecting data to measure the effectiveness of school resource officers.

With that period ending, representatives of Seaside’s and Monterey’s police departments were looking to renew their contracts for the 2018-19 school year – at no cost to the district.

Monterey Police Chief Hober and SRO Greg Galin spoke at MPUSD’s Aug. 14 board meeting. Hober disputed arguments against SROs, reading from the same Journal of Criminal Justicestudy that MPUSD trustee Debra Gramespacher cited last year, when she was speaking against SROs.

“[Findings] are contrary to the criminalization hypothesis and may even signify that SROs have a positive impact at schools,” Hober read.

But Gramespacher said Hober had failed to quote the entire conclusion, which found the number of arrests involved in disorderly conduct to be “troubling.”

School staff spoke out in favor of keeping a police presence in schools; representatives of Building Healthy Communities and NAACP spoke in opposition.

The board was similarly divided, and approved the SRO contracts on a 4-3 vote. Bettye Lusk was the ultimate swing vote, disappointing many people in the crowd. “I made a commitment to work for the community,” she said. But members of the public quickly and audibly left the room during her remarks.

Marielle Argueza is a staff writer and calendar editor for the Weekly. She covers education, immigration and culture. Additionally, she covers the areas of Marina and South County. She occasionally writes about food and runs the internship program.

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