School Resource Officer Lorenzo Beltran was honored at Monday’s City Council meeting for recently being awarded the “Floyd Ledbetter National School Resource Officer of the Year” honor on June 24 at the NASRO Conference in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
The 12-year police veteran with five years at Ceres Police Department was singled out by the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) in recognition of outstanding specific and significant contributions to the community and school district.
Beltran is assigned to Central Valley High School, one of four SROs assigned by Ceres Police to Ceres Unified School District campuses.
At the outset of the council meeting, Ceres Police Chief Rick Collins said Beltran’s passion for mentoring youth, assuring student safety and personal involvement with students were reasons he was honored at the national level.
“He made an immediate impact by implementing a new color-coded evacuation plan for all 21 campuses,” said Chief Collins. “I guess one day he noticed during a fire drill that all the kids were sent to one location. In an active shooter incident, that’s probably not a good idea so he revamped the evacuation plans for all the campuses and the school quickly realized that was a better plan.”
Beltran also trained all teachers on the proper use of a tourniquet.
“He goes out of his way to engage students daily,” said the chief. “At times he donates his own equipment or spends money out of his own pocket for students who are in need. The positive impact he makes is evident by the amount of students who left graduation commencement line in 2018 to shake his hand and say thank you.”
Collins said Beltran uses the time in which students pass from class to class to engage to make smarter decisions. He serves as advisor to the Criminal Justice Club which he established on the CVHS campus where, as a result of the club’s popularity, criminal justice classes were introduced this year.
On high school late-start days which traditionally have high tardy rates, Officer Beltran has been known to drop by the local coffee hangout to encourage students to get to school on time. He serves as a mentor to students in all grade levels, and is often the person students call on when experiencing a difficult day. He also spends lunch time shooting hoops with students or eating with kids.
One parent credited Beltran with changing the course of her daughter’s school experience, from bullied victim to confident, capable leader.
Beltran also conducts regular school and community presentations on gang and drug awareness, coaches youth sports and actively supports community events including Toys for Tots, Beards for Kids, Shop with a Cop, and the “Every 15 Minutes” program.
Beltran’s rapport with and commitment to students may stem from his background as an at-risk youth who found a sense of belonging through the influence of a teacher who launched a chess club at his school, and two police officers who coached his Ceres Youth Baseball team. Beltran went on to become a Ceres Police explorer, and later devoted his career to law enforcement.
“It is evident that Officer Beltran clearly has a passion for connecting with our youth,” said Chief Collins. “And it is also evident that he is making a huge impact – more than we can do just on patrol.”
Beltran had a chance to speak to the council after presented a certificate of recognition.
“It starts at the top, it starts with my sergeant, Greg Yotsuya and hats off to him. He allows me and my SRO team to do what we have to do. He trusts us. It starts from the chief of police, all the way down to my whole team. I’m not the only one doing it. We have four SROs also.”
He said he enjoys interacting with Ceres youth.