A school resource officer program would be welcomed back at Portales High School, according to Portales school district officials.
The suspension of the program for the 2012-2013 school year had nothing to do with the arrest of school resource officer Victor Castillo earlier this month for allegedly maintaining a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student, officials said.
High school Principal Melvin Nusser and Lt. Mark Cage of the Portales Police Department said the school district and the department agreed to suspend the program for one year prior to Castillo's termination from the department July 13 and his Aug. 3 arrest.
Nusser said he asked the department to not reinstate a new resource officer until there was one available for the entire school year.
School resource officers talk to high school students about the issues of drugs, violence and more, as well as help school faculty with student behavioral issues.
"It isn't something we have to have," Nusser said. "It was a joint effort between the school and the police department to better serve the community."
Nusser said despite it not being a necessity, the program was beneficial to the school with former resource officers, such as Mike Running and John Mondragon, visiting classrooms to talk to students about drugs and violence and even going as far as beginning a Students Against Drunk Driving (SAD) program with students in which Running met with students every week to discuss the dangers of drunken driving.
"We use them as an outside resource for educational purposes," Nusser said. "That's the point of the program."
Nusser said the program being suspended is nothing new. The program was suspended twice previously, once for budget constraints and once because of lack of police department personnel.
Nusser said Portales police officers are remaining active in the school district, despite the temporary suspension of the program.
He said officers spent this week patrolling the Third Street area around the junior high and high school to more strictly enforce seat belt laws and on Wednesday, two officers will visit the high school to talk to students about texting while driving.
"We have a good cooperation," said Portales schools Superintendent Randy Fowler. "If there's a need, police officers can be at the school in a moment's notice. We feel very confident of that."
Nusser said with officers taking part in the high school through educational assemblies, he is fine with the program being suspended for the time being.
Fowler said he would not see the need for changes in the program.
"We've had some great officers in that role," Fowler said. "It's been a very successful program in the past and it can be in the future."
Other police department programs in the schools include Gang Resistance and Education Training (GREAT) and Adopt a Cop.