San Jose police announced Thursday a new memorandum of understanding with Campbell Union High School District, East Side Union High School District and San Jose Unified School District that acts as a diversion program that will likely reduce the number of citations and arrests of students.
The new memorandum between the Police Department and the school districts in San Jose aims to create an eligibility system where some first-time low-level offenses like petty theft and vandalism will not mean entry into the criminal justice system, but rather into school-based services.
"This diversion program helps address the low-level, non-violent youth offenders who are entering the juvenile justice system," San Jose police Chief Eddie Garcia said in a statement.
Mayor Sam Liccardo issued a statement thanking Garcia and Superintendents Chris Funk, Nancy Albarran and Eric Andrew for their collaboration on the MOU.
"We all agree that we can best keep our kids safe by focusing our officers' scarce time on crime, not on student discipline," Liccardo said.
The memorandum is also designed to make sure that police are providing safety, preserving life and property, developing positive relationships with students, and supporting school district staff in securing and transporting of prohibited items, rather than enforcing school rules, according to police.
"Having officers doing the work of school administrators and enforcing school rules is a recipe for disaster and not the purpose of having law enforcement on campuses," Garcia said. "This agreement ensures our officers are in schools to provide a safe place to learn and build positive relationships with students and staff."
The department will continue to provide resources to schools offered through their School Liaison Unit such as presentations to staff regarding legal updates, mandatory reporting laws, gang prevention, sexual harassment and more.