The Los Lunas School District is now the first to have an officer on every campus.
Wednesday morning, the district welcomed four new certified officers to its school resource officer team.
There will be one on each of its 15 campuses during school hours — setting it apart from every other district in the state.
“We are the lead I believe in what we’re trying to provide in the way of school safety. I believe that we are the example,” said Desi Garcia, Director of Safety and Security.
Each officer is armed, equipped with a bulletproof vest and taser.
The ceremony, led by the Valencia County Sheriff, gave the officers the authority to work as law enforcement if need-be.
“Our kids are our future. We need to protect them, make sure they’re safe,” said Gutierrez.
New school resource officer Vania Gutierrez is also a parent of two Los Lunas students.
“It makes me feel very happy and secure that they’re being watched and taken care of. They’ll be able to focus on their school work and what their teachers are teaching them,” said Gutierrez.
The primary goal is for all students and staff to feel comfortable in school.
“We believe that a child can’t learn if they don’t feel safe in their environment,” said Garcia.
However, the officers’ presence goes beyond protection.
“We’ll be able to kind of have a front-line seat on so-to-speak…on how we can affect them and how we affect their perception of what police officers are really about,” said Doug Walton, one of the new school resource officers.
“The kids get to know these officers on a one-to-one basis,” said Garcia. “To see the smile on their face… It’s pretty unique in what we do here and we’re pretty excited about it.”
The team now has 17 officers total. One of the new officers is a former UNM police officer, two others are retired Albuquerque Police officers.
The district wants each new officer to have a patrol car to park out front of the school to deter crime.
They are is spending about $1.5 million on the program. The funding comes from the state.