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VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS | WEST COUNTY / OXNARD

Football Team Has the Law on Its Sidelines

September 15, 1998|MASSIE RITSCH

Police showed up at Santa Clara High School on Monday, but no one got arrested. The two officers were there to introduce themselves as the school's new Cops 'n' Jocks representatives.

Cops 'n' Jocks is a national program that places local law enforcement officers at area high schools to establish rapport with student athletes. Santa Clara High is the latest county high school to join the program after having participated some years ago.

On Monday, Officer Ray Centeno of the Ventura County College District and Oxnard Police Officer Frank Brisslinger met the Santa Clara football players, one of the school's teams they will be adopting this year.

The officers plan to attend at least one practice a week and most of the team's games, including away matches. They will also escort the team onto the field for games, sound their sirens for touchdowns and organize trips to college games.

"We want the kids to see an officer as a person, as a human being," explained the program's organizer, Santa Paula Police Officer Rich Randolph.

Santa Clara head coach Eliseo Miguel said he has heard of students at other schools resisting having police officers around, but "we don't have a problem with our kids accepting this. They're excited about this."

"They see them as just another ally," Miguel added.

Cops 'n' Jocks officers volunteer to take part in the program. Centeno said he expects to spend 25 to 30 hours a week at Santa Clara.

"I believe in a team-spirit concept," Centeno told the team before their Monday practice.

Brisslinger is a Santa Clara graduate. A Hueneme High School alumnus, Centeno said there's no question who he'll cheer for when the two teams meet.

"Hueneme is my alma mater," he said, "but I'm certainly going to root for Santa Clara."

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