Another layer of protection
To ensure Lake Havasu High School remains a safe learning environment, a security team patrols the high school’s campus and screens visitors at entry points. A security resource officer is stationed in the administrative office.
At Havasu High, the SRO is Joe Erhart. Dwain Fernandez is the SRO at Thunderbolt Middle School. Both are members of the Lake Havasu City Police Department and are commissioned, sworn law enforcement officers, not “security guards.”
Sgt. Tom Gray said the officers are assigned to those schools, but “either one of them is able to go to the other schools in the event there is anything that needs to be addressed.”
Principal Scott Becker from the high school credits the police department with keeping the presence of gangs at bay in Havasu and the school.
“The police department is extremely good. When they hear (gangs are) trying to come into Havasu, they are on it,” Becker said.
Gray added, “There are school policies that forbid the display of gang-related items. It is rare the SRO comes across someone openly displaying a gang affiliation. However, through education and enforcement, these issues are minimized.”
Another issue the SROs encounter is fighting.
“If it occurs on campus, it is not necessarily an automatic arrest,” Gray said. “The SRO can use discretion based on injuries, how much of a disturbance was caused and where the incident occurred.”
SROs are also prepared to deal with another age-old student trick that creates disruption. Pulling a fire alarm is no laughing matter.
“If an alarm is intentionally and falsely activated, the individual can be arrested for disorderly conduct,” Gray said.