Statements on the San Rafael Elementary School incident


“The City of Pasadena holds itself to the highest standards in protecting the safety of our residents and schools as well as in the way we treat anyone we encounter. We received a call on Sunday morning informing us that someone with a backpack had climbed over the San Rafael Elementary School fence, and officers were dispatched to see if there was a break-in underway.  At the subsequent request of PUSD Superintendent Dr. Brian McDonald, we have reviewed the City response to determine whether a PUSD employee was mistreated in the response to the call.

We have made public the tape of this call for service.  The caller is concerned, but not inflammatory, and there are no racial overtones to the call.   The Police Officers responding to the call found the campus gate was locked, but the door to the school was visibly open.  One person was observed inside the school, dressed in black shorts, a white t-shirt and an open blue outer-shirt.  Officers questioned him and per protocol, handcuffed him for approximately 6 1/2 minutes until they could verify that he was a PUSD employee with permission to be on a closed campus.  The PUSD employee was not “proned out”, and the handcuffing was carried out by a female Police Officer quietly and respectfully.  The PUSD employee was likewise polite and cooperative.

It should be noted that the long arms which were carried by the Police Officers in this response are non-lethal and use a projectile made of foam, designed to stun and not injure.  This was not a SWAT or military type response in any manner.

We have reviewed the camera video from the Pasadena officers and from the PUSD Metro security officers who responded.  Our review has concluded that everyone conducted themselves in a professional way and consistent with City of Pasadena and Police Department policies.

We value our partnership with the Pasadena Unified School District and it is our responsibility to protect their students, assets and property.  Especially these days, we need to be vigilant of our school grounds and verify, when called, that only authorized personnel have access to school grounds whether the schools are closed or open.  We are working closely with Metro Security, who is PUSD’s contractor, and appreciate their assistance and support through all of this. Because of the technology available to us, you may review the encounter with the employee yourself and make your own determination about what happened.

Link to Videos


“Once I was made aware of the incident by Superintendent Brian McDonald, I immediately initiated an internal review so we could present the facts to the community. Our job is to approach a situation based on the information provided to us in the initial call to our dispatch center.  Our officers received that information and conducted themselves in a professional and polite manner as I’d expect from our entire department.  The custodian was detained, cooperated and understood the process the officers had to go through to validate that he was permitted to be on a closed school campus.”