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Police chief maintains commitment to Turlock schools
TUSD and police pic
Through an enhanced partnership with Turlock Unified School District, Turlock Police Department School Resource Officers can now respond immediately to any emergency situation at Roselawn Continuation High School. - photo by CANDY PADILLA/The Journal

When Nino Amirfar started with the Turlock Police Department in 1990, he said that it was clear to him even then that the students, schools and community were paramount to the department. Now as the Turlock Police Chief, Amirfar’s commitment to Turlock schools hasn’t faltered. Instead it has fortified into one that aims to provide more assistance and an even quicker response to more schools.

“Thank you so much for your commitment to our community,” Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustee member Frank Lima. “I’ve been on the Board a long time and I’ve always believe that in order for this District to really achieve, we need to collaborate and coordinate with the community. There’s no way the District can form in isolation.”

One school in particular that Amirfar wants to focus on is Roselawn Continuation High School. Roselawn currently resides within the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department boundaries of jurisdiction, which means that the department is responsible for responding if an incident were to occur at the school site.

“While this occurs rather quickly, our SROs [Student Resource Officers] have now been authorized to immediately assess the situation as they have direct communication through TUSD, and respond accordingly with the necessary officers,” said Amirfar. “Due to our close proximity, we will arrive and stabilize the incident until the Sheriff’s Department arrives.

Through TUSD’s enhanced partnership with TPD, assistant superintendent of business services Mike Trainor said that Roselawn can now expect immediate law enforcement support, either from one or both of TUSD’s current SROs. 

“Due to conflicts related to jurisdiction, SROs have not always had the green light to immediately report to Roselawn as a first responded,” said Trainor. “However, they will immediately notify Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office who will respond and resume responsibilities.”

Trainor said that TUSD has maintained a partnership with the local police department since the mid-1990s when Amirfar was assigned to Turlock High School as its first SRO. At this time, which was prior to the construction of Pitman High School, there were 3,800 students on the THS campus.

Amirfar said that prior to him being assigned as the SRO at THS, the school was experiencing issues with unauthorized entry of non-students, gangs and numerous other problems that come with overcrowding that impacted the safety of everyone on site.

“This greatly impacted the ability to educate and care for our young adults,” said Amirfar. “Through collaboration with the school district, we began with having an officer on campus on an overtime basis. We quickly learned that the presence of an officer was an immediate success regarding non-students and outside influences, but there was something missing.

“We — TUSD staff and PD — met and had numerous discussions and realized that the element missing was continuity, relationships between students, staff, teachers and police. We developed the SRO program to bridge this gap and it became a huge success not only did the previously mentioned problems decreased, the communication and relationships began to flourish through classroom interactions, afterschool programs and the everyday contact and interpersonal communications between the SRO and all students and staff,” continued Amirfar.

Amirfar added that while the program was almost cut years ago due to critical police staffing, TUSD stepped up and decided to partner with the City of Turlock to fund the SRO program, which has since then flourished to include a second SRO at PHS.

“Over the years, our relationship with the TPD has been outstanding — always a very close connection between both entities with a focus on safety,” said Trainor. “Having said that, due to the fact that Chief Amirfar was the District’s original SRO, the scope of the program has increased and responsibilities have broadened.”

Trainor said that TUSD’s two current SROs, which are Mark Alberti at PHS and Matt Ulrich at THS, spend the majority of their days assigned to the two comprehensive high schools. However, when needed for additional support, both lend a hand at all other sites throughout the district.

“In fact, quite often, our SROs are a very visible presence at our elementary schools,” said Trainor.

In general, SROs provide immediate law enforcement support for TUSD administration should any school sites encounter a situation that may need it. Trainor said that the unique aspect of the SRO program is that it is based upon establishing and maintaining positive relationships with all stakeholders — students, staff, administration, parents and community members.