Santa Rosa schools officials: Police to return to school campuses through end of year

Amid rising consternation over violence on Santa Rosa school campuses, school district administrators announced Sunday afternoon that police officers would be present at high schools for the two weeks leading up to a winter break.|

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Amid rising consternation over violence on Santa Rosa school campuses, school district administrators announced Sunday that police will have a daily presence on local campuses for the next two weeks leading up to winter break.

A Santa Rosa police officer will be stationed at each of the city’s high schools, according to a Santa Rosa City Schools district news release.

Police officers will not be stationed at the city’s middle schools for the entirety of the school day, but will be spending time on those campuses, checking in with administrators, and in their vicinity throughout the day, according to school district spokeswoman Vanessa Wedderburn.

Five officers will take on the duties, Santa Rosa police Lt. Chris Mahurin said Sunday.


Sunday’s announcement came days after Santa Rosa City Manager Maraskeshia Smith addressed a letter to Superintendent Anna Trunnell suggesting that the district reinstate school resource officers — the usual term for police officers on school campuses.

The police officers stationed on campus in the short-term, though, will not be SROs, Wedderburn said.

The California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training offers specified courses for school resource officers.

Smith’s letter to Trunnell followed a Wednesday incident in which three Herbert Slater Middle School students were arrested for a fight that started in a classroom. It ended after one student brandished a knife at the other two before fleeing the school, police said.

Sunday’s announcement means that police officers will return, at least temporarily, to school campuses. The decision has been made without a vote by the elected school board.

The SRO program was suspended in 2020 following a unanimous vote by the seven-member school board. The board’s action, at that time, was part of a nationwide effort by many elected officials to confront racial biases in the criminal justice system.

Academic researchers and critics of SROs say police officers on campus drive what is commonly called the “school-to-prison pipeline,” a phrase that describes a connection between police officers on campus and increased funneling of minority youth into adult and juvenile criminal justice systems.

But since March when a Montgomery High School student was fatally stabbed during a fight in a classroom, parents across the district have increasingly called for the return of SROs to campuses in one form or another.

Wednesday’s incident at Herbert Slater, which caused officials to lock down the school for two hours, sparked a fresh wave of outrage from parents and teachers.

On Friday, all but five of Herbert Slater’s teachers called out sick and rallied with students outside the school.

Over the weekend, Trunnell and Smith worked together on a plan to reinstall police officers on campus, Wedderburn said.

The school board has planned to discuss school safety during its Dec. 13 meeting, according to Sunday’s news release.

Reached by phone Sunday night, Santa Rosa City Schools Board member Jeremy De La Torre, who was appointed in May, said administrators informed him of the decision to bring officers back to campus before they made the announcement public.

He said that while the board will ultimately have to craft a long-term policy, he supported Trunnell’s decision.

“I think she is making a decision in the best interests of our students and our staff” given recent incidents of fighting and weapons on campus, De La Torre said.

“The unfortunate reality is officers were on our campuses multiple times due to these incidents … that’s without a board vote,” he said, adding that when it comes to crafting a policy for safer schools, “I really want to make sure the community is taking their time and not just reacting out of fear and anger.”

You can reach Staff Writer Andrew Graham at 707-526-8667 or On X, formerly Twitter, @AndrewGraham88

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