Salinas police and school officials have solved event staffing challenges that at one point threatened cancellation of two high school homecoming parades.
At a meeting Thursday afternoon at Salinas Union High School District Offices, representatives from the Salinas Police Department, Salinas Union High School District, Alisal High School and Salinas High School decided to alter parade routes and share security and traffic control responsibilities among the police and the staff of the two schools.
For the September 27 Alisal High Homecoming Parade, the SPD will handle all security and traffic control for an alternate route that will require fewer police officers to manage. Meanwhile Alisal High staff will provide increased supervision of students while they are on the parade route.
With more time to prepare, there will a higher level of collaboration for the October 18 Salinas High parade.
The route has been altered and shortened, which will reduce the number of police officers required. Salinas High will be responsible for providing increased student supervision, a traffic control plan, barricades at designated intersections along the parade route, and properly trained volunteers to staff all intersections.
The Salinas Police Department is very pleased that the parades can now proceed. The Department is committed to facilitating as many positive youth activities as the City can host, but must do so understanding our primary responsibility is to provide basic police services to the entire City. As originally planned, the homecoming parades would have required the presence of more police personnel than are on duty during a regular patrol shift. Since the Police Department has lost more than 40 officers in the past three years due to budget cuts, SPD cannot commit that number of personnel to non-emergency events.
As originally planned, the parades would have called for more police support than the SPD would have been able to provide, given current staffing shortages.
While staffing shortages continue, the SPD is reviewing and revising its guidelines for securing future parades, large street closures and other special events. Collaboration with event organizers is expected to play a greater role. Future events such as the Salinas High School Homecoming Parade and the October 6 Ciclovia bicycle event will require the use of citizen volunteers in order to reduce the need for police presence.
Among other changes, police will no longer conduct rolling road closures, which allows the free flow of traffic around parades.
Instead, police will secure the entire parade route from before the event begins until it ends. The route will be closed and secured by properly trained volunteers.
This will place added responsibilities on event organizers. The Department encourages anyone wishing to host an event that will require road closures to contact City staff well ahead of time so we can work with them to help make their event a success.
Residents who would like to volunteer to help with events should contact organizers directly.
Thursday's discussion was held at the direction of the Salinas City Council after high school students spoke up for the parades at the September 10 Council meeting. The City Manager and staff were directed to seek alternatives to canceling the parades.
The Police Department is grateful for the participation of education leaders in designing a solution that both allows the parades to go on and helps us fulfill our duty to serve and protect.
The Alisal High Homecoming Parade route will begin at the intersection of Towt Street and Alisal Street, northbound on Towt Street, eastbound on Garner Avenue and northbound on Williams Road to end at the high school.
The Salinas High parade will begin at the rear of the school, proceed southbound on Capitol Street, eastbound on Geil Street, northbound on South Main Street, continue onto Main Street and will end at the intersection of Main and Salinas Streets.