LOS BANOS — A new Merced College police officer will begin patrolling the school's Los Banos Campus in about six weeks, according to the dean.
"We're very excited to have a sworn peace officer here on campus," said Dean Brenda Latham.
The position is not in response to a rash of crime or recent high-profile shootings last year, she said. It's just because of growing enrollment.
After funding a new public safety officer position for the Los Banos Campus, the Merced College Board of Trustees witnessed the swearing in of officer Owngia Shelton during its meeting on Jan. 15, according to a press release.
Shelton took the oath of office from Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin during the public meeting, and the sheriff's department is providing training for Shelton.
Latham said Shelton must complete a six-week training before he begins patrolling the campus in a patrol vehicle. Though the Los Banos Campus has had security, Shelton is its first sworn officer, Latham said.
Board President Dennis Jordan, in a news release, said the Los Banos Campus is growing and has a responsibility to ensure student safety.
"Hiring a new police officer for the campus is simply wise and prudent," Jordan said in the news release.
As of last year's census, the Los Banos Campus has about 1,300 full-time equivalent students.
Shelton, a 2000 Golden Valley High School graduate, was born and raised in Merced. He studied criminal justice at Merced College and is working toward his bachelor's degree from Union Institute and University in Stockton, according to the release.
Shelton coaches Golden Valley High School varsity football and city league teams, according to the release.
Shelton and his wife, Felicia, have three children, Jaidaen, Daniel and Brianna.
Los Banos Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or firstname.lastname@example.org.