San Diego

SDUSD Police Chief Says Force is Ready for Students to Return

The chief of police for the San Diego Unified School District says he and his force are ready for thousands of students to head back to school next Monday.

Chief Mike Marquez says his primary job is keeping those thousands of students safe, and on Friday he sat down with NBC 7 to explain how he plans to do it.

Marquez leads a squad of 38 campus police officers who patrol schools in our state's second-largest school district. He also has an arsenal of roughly 1,600 campus surveillance cameras that feed directly into his department’s dispatch center.

"They set the tone on campus for our students,” Marquez said of the cameras. “Students know we're there each and every day watching and protecting them and that surveillance cameras add another piece to that safety."

Challenged by the threat of school shootings at various campuses during his tenure, Marquez says it's the duty of every student and parent to report anything suspicious.

"We want to be made aware of every single threat because it's our responsibility that we're looking at that,” Marquez said. “We take it very seriously, and do everything we can, again, keeping communities and schools safe."

If parents don't think their schools are doing enough, the Students Speaking Out program allows any community member to call police anonymously.

"So I would encourage our parents to have that conversation with our students because if there's a report of anything dangerous on any of our campuses we want to know about it,” Marquez said.

With the White House still reportedly weighing decisions about whether federal money could be used to arm teachers, the chief says he is in favor of anything that makes a school safer but he doesn't believe that includes arming teachers.

“I believe the teachers should be teaching in the classroom and I believe the law enforcement officers should be responsible for being armed in the field,” he said.

Marquez says parents and students won't see metal detectors or any other big security changes at schools on Monday. His department will focus instead on improving existing programs which encourage more interaction between officers and students.

Marquez chief says no SDUSD schools have metal detectors right now and there are no plans to install them.

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