SANTA ANA, Ca. (July 14, 2020): The Orange County Board of Supervisors today approved a pilot program that would expand the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s School Mobile Assessment and Resource Team (SMART) to three additional Orange County cities.
The Sheriff’s Department will enter into an agreement with the cities of Anaheim, Garden Grove and Irvine for SMART, which is comprised of deputies and officers specially trained to assess threats to the safety and security of students, staff and schools in Orange County.
North SMART will include a sergeant and deputy from the Sheriff’s Department, an officer from the Garden Grove Police Department and an officer from the Anaheim Police Department. South SMART will include a Sheriff’s Department sergeant, investigator and two deputies, and an officer from the Irvine Police Department. A behavioral health clinician from the OC Health Care Agency will assist both teams.
With the expansion, SMART will serve approximately 265 schools in Orange County, up from 112.
“In a time when some law enforcement agencies are forced to pull back public safety resources in schools, I am proud that Orange County understands the importance of maintaining a proactive and robust program to protect students, staff and teachers,” said Don Barnes, Orange County Sheriff-Coroner. “SMART is a necessary component of our school safety strategy that not only helps prevent potential tragedy, but also affords an opportunity for us to counsel and support the most at-risk students in our community.”
SMART first was formed in July 2001 to serve schools in the Sheriff’s Department jurisdiction in response to a national increase in threats of violence on school campuses. The team works in conjunction with the Probation Department, OC Health Care Agency and District Attorney’s Office to resolve threats, address safety issues and manage concerns involving at-risk youth.
From 2015 to 2019, SMART responded to 774 threat assessments. Of those, 231 were referred to Pepperdine Resource Youth Diversion and Education (PRYDE), 277 were weapons-related calls and 12 arrests were made.
The program was founded as part of the county’s Comprehensive Multi-Agency Juvenile Justice Plan, which receives funding from the Juvenile Crime Prevention Act of 2000. The estimated $1.5 million to run the pilot program until Dec. 31, 2021 will be fully funded by the Juvenile Crime Prevention Act.