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      Santa Maria School District police get police unit from Cameron County authorities

      Santa Maria School District police wasted no time Monday, in testing out the newest addition to the small police department - white Suburban seized by Cameron County authorities, which they donated to the new police department.

      District Attorney Armando Villalobos said federal grants are scarce these days and small departments need all the help they can get.

      "Santa Maria is very poor, Villalobos said. In talking to the chief, he indicated that they didn't have a unit, they don TMt have radios - they have a long list of necessary equipment that they require here, just to have basic police force on their school grounds."

      With the potential threat of border violence just about a mile away from the three school campuses, Santa Maria Police Chief Daniel Cruz said having a vehicle to get around quickly, is crucial to the safety of the 800 students in the district.

      "That's our biggest concern, we're very close to the river, Cruz said. Again, I can TMt stress enough, the sheriff's office (and) constables office are there ready to assist us, but the response time is one of the factors that we think about."

      Sheriff Omar Lucio said Cruz first requested help with a vehicle back in December, and it was only until now that they squared away the necessary paper work, to turn over the title to the school district.

      The new unit will increase police presence on campus and bring some relief to the community as a whole.

      "They have welcomed us - we've had no negative results from the students, Cruz said. Parents are really happy as well, (because) they realize that there's somebody on campus ready to protect their children."