On Feb. 24, the Watsonville Police arrested a 17-year-old Pajaro Valley High School student after he was found to have a loaded gun.
According to Watsonville Police spokeswoman Michelle Pulido, school officials called police just before 11am with a report that a student was possibly armed.
The School Resource Officer assigned to Watsonville High gathered information and coordinated additional officers to respond to the PV High campus.
Within minutes, the SRO located the student, detained him, and found a loaded gun in his backpack. The case is still under investigation.
“We’re thankful that our partnership with the school district resulted in a safe resolution to this incident,” Pulido stated.
PVHS Principal Consuelo Mason contacted the PVUSD Superintendent’s office when she learned about the student from a teacher and initiated the school’s Threat Assessment Protocol.
“Please know that our campus is safe, and instructions resumed as normal,” Mason wrote in a letter to parents. “Your child’s safety is extremely important to the PVHS staff, and we will continue to investigate all possible threats on campus and involve law enforcement when necessary. Campus safety continues to be a priority for us, and we take every incident seriously.”
Campus safety and the placement of School Resource Officers have been an issue in PVUSD since July 2020, when the Board of Trustees eliminated the program. Trustees Georgia Acosta and Daniel Dodge Jr. voted against the move.
At the time, supporters said that uniformed police officers on campus focused on minority students and contributed to the “school-to-prison pipeline.”
But a year later, a student was killed on the Aptos High School campus in a violent stabbing attack that many said might have been avoided had there been an SRO.
The incident prompted the board to reinstate the program at Aptos High, and Watsonville High followed suit. The Watsonville Police Department is currently evaluating its staffing levels to determine if it can also support the position at PV High.
The PVUSD Board of Trustees will discuss the SRO program at the second meeting in March, but no action will likely be taken since it will not be an action item.
Teacher Kevin Cordova says he’s frustrated about the lack of information from the district about the incident and wonders why there were seemingly no safety measures during the arrest. He says that eight officers came onto campus during break and arrested the student on the crowded campus.
“Even if we weren’t supposed to be on lockdown, I think I would like to know why that is,” Cordova adds. “We haven’t had any active shooter drills or even a lockdown or fire drill this year. I do hope our community understands that we were lucky today. Very lucky.”
Anyone with information regarding a possible threat in school can use the STOPit app.