Coronado Police Department Officer Grace Del Bagno (left) and Officer Brittany Palmore are resource officers for the Coronado Unified School District. Staff photo by Julieta Soto.

Swiftly reaching into an assortment of candy bins is a friendly face recognized by several Coronado trick-or-treaters moving towards the steps of the Police Department building on Halloween.

Along Orange Avenue, the law enforcement agency has joined other participating businesses for Mainstreet Goes Ghostly, hosted by Coronado MainStreet.

Several of the agency’s officers and volunteers begin to pass out candy at 3 p.m. until the last piece is claimed minutes before 5:30 p.m.

Among the officers distributing treats are Brittany Palmore and Grace Del Bagno, who co-lead as the Coronado Police Department’s School Resource Officers. They serve as full-time liaisons between local law enforcement and the school district.

Coronado Police Department officers take a photo with a young girl dressed as a police officer on Halloween. Staff photo by Julieta Soto.

“I love working with her!” shared Del Bagno as they finished distributing treats.

Our School Resource Officer program reflects the great working relationship we share with the schools and our focus on school safety.”

-Police Chief Chuck Kaye.

“The Coronado Police Department has always put an emphasis on our relationship with our schools, the staff, and students,” Police Chief Chuck Kaye told the Coronado News. “Our School Resource Officer program reflects the great working relationship we share with the schools and our focus on school safety.”

Coronado Police Department Officer Grace Del Bagno (left) and Officer Brittany Palmore. Staff photo by Julieta Soto.

In July, Palmore’s role with the department took a shift as Del Bagno took her under her wing to begin learning and handling responsibilities for her new School Resource Officer role, which she will hold for the next two years.

Fostering relationships

Palmore will become the full time SRO in January, while the two work together this fall, Kaye said.

Del Bagno, who has spent six years as the SRO, will then return to patrol and pursue other opportunities in the department, said Palmore.

“Officer Grace Del Bagno has done a great job,” adds Kaye. “Officer Palmore will be well established when she becomes the primary School Resource Officer at the end of the year.”

Gaining recognition across the community, Palmore said she looks forward to continuing fostering relationships within the schools and making it known that she is available for any issues in the months ahead.

I want to be a fixture on the campuses, not just in times of emergencies.”

Officer Brittany Palmore.

“I want my face to be out there,” said Palmore. “I’m assigned to the schools, so I want to be a fixture on the campuses, not just in times of emergencies. I want to be the kind of SRO that I didn’t really, maybe didn’t see when I was in school. …you get more and more kids that say hi to you every week.”

Teach, mentor and enforce

Palmore and Del Bagno take care of any calls related to the school sites.

They also visit classrooms and teach a year-long course three days of the week and maintain a presence across the community by attending or participating in different events.

“It’s honestly been a great transition, Grace has been a great person to learn from…she’s been a wealth of knowledge for me coming into this new spot,” added Palmore.

In September, Palmore completed a week-long training course in Sacramento specifically for SROs where she got the opportunity to network with other SROs as well as sergeants and probation officers, she said.

“We had classes on juvenile justice, a drug course, and a course on mentoring which was really good information,” said Palmore. “In Coronado, we’re blessed to have relatively low crime rates in our schools, so the mentoring comes into play with the students.”

Crown City Safety Ambassadors

Del Bagno spearheaded Crown City Safety Ambassadors, a program tailored for students in Coronado to teach fourth and sixth graders about law enforcement, bullying, peer pressure, emotional support, and to spread awareness about the dangers of drug use and its consequences.

The program also encourages a community service project and wraps up with a graduation and certificate, said Palmore.

In its second year, the two-semester class parallels the nationwide Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) program, but Palmore added that it is specifically tailored for students in Coronado.

Coronado Police Department Officer Brittany Palmore has been working to become the main School Resource Officer. Photo courtesy of Coronado Police Department Public Information Officer Lea Corbin.

“We don’t need to teach them about gang resistance in Coronado, that’s not really specific to our area,” said Palmore. “Grace made this whole new program that was a little bit tailored more to our city and the things that we want to deal with the kids.”

Now the curriculum has reached more than 450 fourth and fifth graders across Coronado Middle School, Village Elementary School, Silver Strand Elementary School, Christ Church Day School, and Sacred Heart Parish School, according to a Coronado Times interview with Chief Kaye in March.

“It’s just good to get the education started early, so that’s why we do the fourth and the sixth grades,” said Palmore. “They’re very attentive to that stuff, they listen to what we’re saying. … We’ve got their attention.”

Upholding Safety

Palmore said the first day of school in late August was a big day for them and the multiple other officers also assigned to school sites.

Palmore and Del Bagno spent their morning handing out stickers to the kids, helping with elementary school drop-off, and foot patrol around the schools, she added.

“We try to make our face visible, we want people to know who we are, we want people to recognize us,” said Palmore.

While SROs also manage some student disciplinary cases or citations, Palmore said her overall presence is to provide safety.

Del Bagno and Palmore also can be found at school events like dances, sports games, and school board meetings.

“I’m not there to be this big enforcer,” said Palmore. “I’m there for their safety.”

Juvenile diversion program

This semester, the officers implemented the juvenile diversion program for middle and high school students to learn about traffic safety if they get their first citation.

“We use our discretion and grant them an opportunity to complete a diversion where they go to a Saturday school,” said Palmore. “In lieu of us sending the ticket to the courts, we use that as their diversion. … They only get one opportunity. If they do it again, then we send it to the courts.”

She said a Saturday school assignment could be writing an essay on “what they did, whether it’s not wearing a helmet, what the repercussions of that could be, what they’re going to do to change.”

Palmore considers minors on e-bikes a continuous phenomenon around the city, but she said they are working to emphasize helmets, speed limits, and “trying to get kids to buy into the fact that they’re not invincible on these bikes.”

“It all boils back down to safety,” said Palmore. “We don’t want to see any terrible accidents in the city with ebikes. …so we’re trying to do our best to educate the kids.”

Approaching ‘cop anniversary’

Palmore said February marks her “cop anniversary,” beginning her sixth year as a police officer, with most of that time serving in Coronado.

Palmore grew up in the San Marcos area and obtained her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Sacramento State.

Returning to San Diego following her college graduation in 2016, Palmore completed the six-month police academy in 2017 and worked as an Escondido officer for one year.

“I came to Coronado just kind of on a whim,” said Palmore. “And I ended up really liking the department here.”

Palmore returns to the department during the summer months as a patrol officer.

“She is so friendly with everybody and personable to senior volunteers,” said Lynda Balkam, a Coronado Police Department Volunteer for eight years who attended Palmore’s swearing-in ceremony.

Palmore also serves as her department’s LGBTQ+ Liaison with other agencies throughout San Diego County, acting as a resource to bridge interactions within the department and the LGBTQ+ community.

Parents appreciate just having a law enforcement presence at the schools.”

Officer Brittany Palmore

“Parents appreciate just having a law enforcement presence at the schools,” said Palmore. “We’re there too for the kids if they just want to chat.”

Palmore encourages the community to not be shy if they see her around town.

“I like when people come to me with things,” said Palmore. “Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask questions. We’re here for the community and that’s how it’s always been.”

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Julieta is a reporter for The Coronado News, covering education, small business and investigating the Tijuana/Coronado sewage issue. She graduated from UC Berkeley where she studied English, Spanish, and Journalism. Apart from reporting, Julieta enjoys reading, traveling, and spending quality time with family and friends.