Enhanced School Safety Plan

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What We Do To Make Our Schools More Safe

2013-Taft Career Day (2)
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2013-DARE Graduation

The Redwood City Police Department maintains as one of its top priorities, the support of student safety and development within all city schools and associated educational programs. In 2012, the Department implemented several strategies under the umbrella of its Enhanced School Safety Program in furtherance of this ideology. These programs offer a multi-faceted approach to student and parent outreach, as well as preventative measures designed to identify and prepare for campus based threats and disruptions. The aggregate of these efforts comprise the Enhanced School Safety Program, which is designed to empower educators, parents and students by supporting a safe learning environment.

The Redwood City Enhanced School Safety Program encompasses more than basic youth-centered outreach or campus policing strategies. The Department has developed a holistic program to address the needs of youth and deliver supportive remedies to youth, their parents, and the community, beyond the purview of traditional enforcement or suppression models. Because police officers frequently encounter youth under a variety of circumstances both on and off campus, the Department believes that these professionals possess unique opportunities to intervene constructively at these critical moments in the lives of youth and their families.

Adopt-A School

It is the philosophy of the Redwood City Police Department that all youth programs must be administered systemically by all departmental components in order to be effective. While personnel and resources are specifically committed to both youth services and community policing functions, each Department member shares the role of outreach and engagement. In keeping with this ideology, every patrol officer is personally responsible for maintaining strong connections and offering all available services to their adopted schools. This sense of ownership generates greater commitment by all involved stakeholders while building long-lasting relationships that produce results.

School-based Family Intervention

The Redwood City Police Department recognizes that gang violence and its profound effects on our youth make the administration of effective anti-gang program a top priority. Yet gang suppression alone is not a sole remedy as the Department cannot “arrest our way out of the impacts of gang violence.” Consequently, the Department maintains full-time dedication to gang prevention and intervention programs that focus on elementary-aged students and youth who are most susceptible to environmental gang influences. Additionally, gang intervention efforts attempt to redirect gang-affected and gang-involved youth into constructive alternatives. Our tattoo removal program is one such example.

The Redwood City Police Department is unique in its approach to youth concerns by examining the underlying causes of behavioral issues. The Department partners with graduate students from various local universities to provide individual, family and group counseling services at no cost to at-risk students and their families. The Student Attendance Advisory Board and the Multi-disciplinary Team bring several agencies together in order to treat the underlying causes of truancy.

The Department provides both gang prevention and gang intervention classes in English and Spanish. The presenters help participants to understand the diverse nature of gangs, the social, economic and cultural problems they pose, and the harm resulting caused to the community. These classes lay out in detail how families, police, schools and the community can work together help youth stay out of gangs. Please contact our Juvenile Specialist Manuel Velarde at mvelarde@redwoodcity.org or 650-780-7195

Student Community Advisory Network (SCAN)

The Student Community Advisory Network engages the staff of community schools to identify students who are willing to provide Department members with candid feedback of their perceptions of police practices and neighborhood safety concerns. School staff facilitates this dialogue which focuses on active listening and creating mutual understanding. Unlike existing mainstream student leadership or advisory groups, SCAN deliberately recruits and engages at-risk youth in order to develop inclusive relationships between police and this specific youth demographic. In doing so, SCAN offers law enforcement with unique and often untold perspectives from youth that have traditionally had antagonistic relationships with police.

The effects of the SCAN program extend beyond a school campus. Feedback from participating youth provides insights to participating officers and Department leadership who subsequently employ this understanding in daily neighborhood policing activities. This collaboration also allows officers to inform and educate participating youth about student rights, good citizenship, and available youth programs.

Social Media

One mechanism the Redwood City Police Department uses to receive tips on potential threats to campus safety involves the use of social media. The Department has been recognized as a national leader in the effective use of social media platforms as a public communications and outreach tool. Within the context of school safety, the Department has begun developing an identity among school-aged youth on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, thereby offering a contemporary portal for social media users of all ages to communicate concerns to their concerns in the most timely and familiar manner. In September 2023, the Department launched a full Spanish language departmental Facebook page, to better serve the Spanish-speaking communities of Redwood City. The Department’s efforts in building an effective community outreach tool through social media resulted in the California Peace Officers’ Association bestowing its 2013 Award of Distinction upon the Department’s Social Media Team.

As the Department continues to grow its Social Media program, it will evaluate input received from other programs such as SCAN, Adopt-a-School, Parent Outreach and Town Hall meetings to adapt its outreach to the needs of all segments of the community, including youth and campus communities.

Campus Emergency Response Protocol

Frequently referred to as Code Red or lockdown/barricade drills, the Redwood City Police Department’s comprehensive preparedness program to prevent and respond to acts of violence affecting school campuses. This program provides annual training to school staff members at every school site in the city while concurrently perfecting the training of first responders. Each year, subject matter experts from the Police Department provide an in-depth lecture to school staff at all levels and exercise learned skills through a series of drills. While students at the high school level participate in drills, elementary and middle school staff members participate in the absence of students.

Under this program, the Redwood City Police and Fire Departments work in unison to prepare to respond to extraordinary or violent events that potentially affect school campuses. This inter-departmental coordination maximizes the efficacy of both agencies as they respond to such events. Additional preparedness is being expanded to include preparedness exercises with EMS transport providers and local hospitals to ready the entire emergency infrastructure to respond effectively in mass or multiple casualty events.

A key component to this program includes a proactive strategy of threat identification, assessment and intervention. To this end, the Department has begun work with a noted behavioral psychologist who will assist police in developing a comprehensive threat assessment and intervention protocol specifically designed to prevent campus-based violence.

The Redwood City Police Department values its youth community and boldly faces all challenges it faces in its quest to provide the safest possible environment on school campuses and in communities throughout the City. The Department remains committed to maintaining an optimal state of preparedness in order to respond to any event that might occur, while taking definitive steps to reduce the likelihood of such an occurrence.The regrettable events that have garnered national attention act as a reminder of the importance and priority that such preparedness planning deserves.

On June 8, 2014, the Redwood City Police and Fire Departments conducted a large-scale joint tactical exercise as a component of their Enhanced School Safety Plan The large-scale joint tactical exercise was held on a local school campus and simulated an “active shooter” on campus.

The purpose of this exercise was to improve our public safety departments’ response to critical incidents occurring at school sites throughout the City. As part of an improved response protocol, the Redwood City Fire Department will now join with the Police Department to ensure that the insertion of medical resources occurs earlier, thereby vastly increasing the likelihood of survival for those affected in such an incident.To view a video of this drill, please click here.

The Parent Project

The curriculum teaches parents how to stop negative behaviors (poor school attendance and performance, alcohol and other drug use, gangs, runaways, and violent teens), and how to open positive two-way communication with the child.

The Parent Project® is a free, 12-week course that is offered in English and Spanish to anyone who cares for a child or adolescent. The classes meet for three hours each week.  Parents learn parenting skills and get information about resources and other support available in their communities. Parents/caregivers learn and practice skills such as:

  • appropriate ways to discipline
  • preventing or stopping alcohol, drug and tobacco use
  • improving communication skills
  • improving grades and school attendance

Here's what one parent said after taking the course:

"I am a single parent of two teenagers. When I thought my children’s lives were at risk, I felt lonely with no answers to all the problems in our lives. I took the parent project class when my children were struggling, and I finally found hope. This class will help parents have a better relationship with their children, and help them succeed."
- Yolanda R.

To watch a short video on the Parent Project, please click here.

To sign up for an upcoming Parent project course sponsored by the Redwood City Police Department, please contact our Juvenile Specialist Manuel Velarde at mvelarde@redwoodcity.org or 650-780-7195