BEN?BOLT?— Mari Garcia, a 12th grade student at Ben Bolt High School, studied with other students Thursday in the cafeteria as COPS In School deputies made their rounds.
"I feel safe," Mari said of the deputies in school.
Her classmates agreed.
"I think that they (officers) keep us in a safe environment," said J.C. Hernandez, a 11th grade student at Ben Bolt High School.
The COPS In School program with the sheriff’s department was implemented several years ago. The program last semester included schools in the surrounding areas in Alice, Ben Bolt and Orange Grove.
The program was designed to have visible officers on campus to help curb crimes and violent incidents and assist faculty members with any unlawful situations.
Since January, Alice High School and William Adams Middle School do not have a deputy patrolling the hallways because of the loss of manpower, officials said.
"As far as the relationship with the schools and us, everything is fine, however, right now it’s hard to find law enforcement officers," Lopez said. "We are waiting for them to graduate from the academy."
Lopez said the department is currently looking for two COPS In School deputies and one patrol officer. The sheriff department has two deputies in the Orange Grove school district and one in the Ben Bolt schools.
During the fall semester, Ben Bolt had the least incident cases reported at the school with 16. Some of the cases were two assault cases, four thefts, several speeding in a school zone citations along with three disorderly conduct for fighting. Orange Grove schools had 20 citations for the fall semester, including 18 criminal cases and two disorderly conducts for fighting.
Alice High School also reported 20 incidents that included nine arrests for offenses such as assault causing bodily injury, disruption activity, possession of weapons along with citations for disorderly conduct for fighting and abusive language.
William Adams Middle School had the most reported cases in the COPS In School program with 79 citations and arrests including five citations for assault by contact, 28 for disruption in the classroom, 19 for disorderly conduct for fighting, two for assault causing bodily injury, one for graffiti and others.
COPS In School Supervisor Capt. Cosme Castillo, said the partnership with the school is a way to assist students in the right path.
"It gives us an opportunity to talk to the kids through presentations and make them aware of the laws and guide them to make the right decisions," Castillo said.
"It also changes their view as to how they see officers. The students know we are here to help them out."
Ben Bolt High School student Aaron Bueno said having an officer in the school has benefited the students.
"It helps keep violence out," said Aaron, a sophomore student.