School Resource Officer Lorenzo Beltran was in for a big surprise when he recently walked into what he thought was a routine police briefing. The 12-year veteran of the Ceres Police Department was greeted by fellow officers and Ceres school officials, assembled to celebrate his selection as the “Floyd Ledbetter National School Resource Officer of the Year.”
Beltran had no idea that Central Valley High School staff had nominated him for the honor, awarded annually by the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) in recognition of one outstanding officer’s specific and significant contributions to the community and school district. CVHS is one of four campuses in the Ceres Unified School District assigned to SRO Beltran, who has spent the past four years ensuring the safety and well-being of CUSD students and staff.
The nomination packet submitted to NASRO by CVHP secretary Jasmin Barragan consisted of a slideshow summarizing Beltran’s contributions, and numberous letters from students, teachers, school district administrators, Ceres Police staff, and others lauding his positive impact. One parent credited Beltran with changing the course of her daughter’s school experience, from bullied victim to confident, capable leader. After Beltran made a class presentation, another student wrote, “I was too shy to share why I felt like cops weren’t so nice. My dad is in jail for his third time because of drugs and immigration. After your visit, I felt better and understood the risks officers make to have safe communities.”
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.
His achievements, both on and off the job, include:
• Beltran drew on his tactical experience as a SWAT officer to develop and implement new evacuation plans and color-coded maps for all Ceres school campuses.
• He collaborated with school district staff to enhance traffic safety at Central Valley High School through new signage, and supported strategic enhancements to a schoolwide video surveillance system.
• Beltran conducts regular school and community presentations on gang and drug awareness, coaches youth sports;
• Actively supports community events including Toys for Tots, Beards for Kids, Shop with a Cop, and the Every 15 Minutes programs.
• Serves as an 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.
“He is constantly looking for ways to make a difference or change an outcome, and that authentic care and concern, backed by selfless actions, have won the trust, respect, and admiration of students and staff alike,” said Jay Simmonds, Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services for the Ceres Unified School District. “There’s no doubt that the positive relationships Officer Beltran is building benefit not only the students he serves, but the overall culture of our schools and community.”
On high school late-start days which traditionally have high tardy rates, Officer Beltran has been known to drop by the local coffee hangout with CVHS Principal Carol Lubinsky 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 always responds and sits with them, allows them to talk or just says ‘hi’ to let them know he’s there if they need him,” said former Police Chief Brent Smith.
Beltran has even made his classic convertible available to students needing a stylish ride for prom.
“I could not be more proud of him,” said Ceres Police Department Sgt. Greg Yotsuya, Beltran’s immediate supervisor. “He does not brag about the work he does with the schools. Many of the officers at the police department had no idea of the impact he has made with the students and staff at the schools. It is great he is getting the recognition that he deserves.”
With characteristic humility, Beltran downplays the accolades.
“I’m just doing something I love,” he said. “I’m giving back an opportunity I was given – being a mentor.”
The award will be presented on June 24 at the NASRO Conference in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.