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Middle school still without a police officer

By David Scharfenberg, Daily Planet staff
Monday December 17, 2001

A year after a high-profile sexual assault against a 12-year-old student, Willard Middle School still does not have a police officer assigned to its campus. 

Cops are in place at Berkeley High School and the other two middle schools in the district, Longfellow and Martin Luther King. 

“We’re the only [middle school] that doesn’t have one, and we’re off Telegraph Avenue,” said Willard Principal Michele Patterson, who has placed an emphasis on safety this year. “I’d like to have a police officer on my campus.” 

Officer Trina Erby served as a “resource officer” at Willard two years ago until an off-site injury put her out of work. Lt. Cynthia Harris, spokeswoman for the Berkeley Police Department, said that a staffing shortage, spurred by heavy retirement in the last 12 to 18 months, has prevented a timely replacement. 

“We’re in a staffing crisis, but things are improving,” Harris said, pointing out that there are several recruits in training. “We hope to replace the officer up there soon.” 

Mark Coplan, parent of a Willard sixth grader, and district manager for Burns International Security, a private security firm in Fremont, said the department should be doing more, even in