Gregory says they're not safe in neighborhood surrounding school

Joe Gregory is in charge of protecting more than 900 teenagers and he's worried about their safety,

In fact, he's scared for them.

He's scared about the people they run into in the streets surrounding Taft Union High School and he's scared at the thought of those people coming onto the campus.

He wants a closed campus at noon, because he says the campus is the safest place around.

Gregory is the Kern County Sheriff's deputy assigned to TUHS as the school resource officer.
He's starting his second year on the assignment and spoke at length to the TUHS Board of Trustees last week.

"I'm not trying to keep the kids in," he said. "I'm trying to keep the bad guys out. I hate an open campus. Almost everything bad happens at lunch."

"When kids are off campus...it's terrifying."

The campus is tightly gated and blocked off with staff or campus security at the few access points, but its what happens out in the neighborhood that Gregory worries about ― teenagers either fining trouble and having trouble find them.

"All these kids are good, but they go off campus and make bad decisions," he said.

But the bigger problems are in the streets and alley surrounding TUHS.

"It's not the kids I'm really worried about ― its society that I'm worried about. Our school is safe.

When they're here, I feel safe. When they're out there I don't feel safe for them."

It's the people under the influence of drugs and the homeless surrounding the campus that worry him.

They're living under bridges near by, and two recently stole one of the school's carts from the Buena Vista campus.

He recommended a closed campus at lunch and encouraged board members to ride along at lunch to see what he sees.