TPHS responds to increase in local juvenile crime

TPHS administrators are working closely with students, parents and the San Diego Police Department to address an increase in local juvenile crime and general bad behavior, according to TPHS Principal Rob Coppo and a SDPD officer.

Particularly since the beginning of the school year, administrators have seen an increase in behavioral issues during and after Friday night TPHS football games.

According to an incident report from the SDPD, at approximately 9 p.m. on Sept. 30, after one such game, officers reported to an altercation in front of, McDonalds in the Del Mar Highlands Center. At least one TPHS student was involved, according to multiple witnesses. Police reported that no weapons were involved.

Five minutes later, police reported that there was an active fight, including accounts of assault and battery, in front of Rite Aid, also located in the Del Mar Highlands Center. With an ambulance en route, a TPHS student was reported to have a bloody lip after being assaulted by another minor, according to a witness.

According to Scarlett Pace (10), who attended the Sept. 30 football game, there was also a bloody altercation involving a TPHS freshman and a second person in Ed Burke Stadium.

“There were tons of bystanders, they were just filming and trying to get the content,” Pace said.

Coppo expressed disappointment at the poor behavior in the student section on Sept. 30. According to Coppo, there were projectile water bottles and Kona Ices, inappropriate chants, colored powder thrown into hair or clothing and students shoving each other off the bleachers.

“I long for the days when I can actually watch the football game. The last two games I spent the entire game with my back to our team, which is deeply disappointing,” Coppo said.

According to Captain Manny Del Toro, SDPD is providing more officers to patrol the surrounding area during and after football games and has instructed local business owners and on-site security to contact the SDPD if they observe problematic behavior.

However, these local behavioral incidents are not confined to football games, according to the SDPD.

The SDPD Northwestern Division, located a mile from TPHS, has reported an increase in juvenile arrests, according to a statement on the community platform Nextdoor. SDPD Officer John Briggs said that those arrests include burglary, robbery, assault, vandalism, trespassing, vehicle theft, criminal threats and public intoxication.

Briggs also reported that the SDPD Northwestern Division is continuing to work with local shopping centers, as well as schools to address concerns and
issues.

While TPHS administrators do not have jurisdiction over student behavior off school grounds and outside of school hours, they have been working closely with the Juvenile Services Team of the SDPD Northwestern Division, and are contacted in the event of incidents that involve TPHS students, according to Coppo.

On campus, TPHS administration has increased bag checks at the entry gate of sports games, limited access to games for students not adhering to the rules and hired more security personnel to ensure the safety of students and other fans.

“Ed Burke doesn’t feel comfortable coming to our games anymore…And when the legendary coach Ed Burke, who wants to just see his old team play, is uncomfortable sitting in the stands because of what’s going on, I think we all need to pause and reflect,” Coppo said.

Administrators are also collaborating with ASB to recenter the focus of the student section. According to Assistant Principal Robert Shockney, he and Coppo met with ASB to discuss changes that redirect the focus of football games after the Sept. 30 game. They expressed their concern for the lack of attention to the game, wishing to incorporate more engagement and support for the TPHS football team.

“Student sections have become far less about the game … this is an important event for our football team. That’s their game, it’s not your entertainment. What we do should be in support of them,” Coppo said.

While the TPHS football season is drawing to a close, the Del Mar Highlands Center remains a popular place for students to congregate. To prevent further misbehavior, Coppo and Shockney both urge parents to remind their children about local laws and expectations while out in public.

“We try to set a good example on campus about what’s acceptable. And, the idea is you should continue that behavior off campus,” Coppo said. “Unfortunately, not everybody does.”

While student sections at games will continue for now, Coppo said that he will not continue to facilitate events if behavior issues continue.

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