Parents upset after their young children were transported on Sheriff’s buses
DEL MAR (KUSI) – The STAR/PAL was well received by the young students, but some parents were concerned that the buses provided by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department were not appropriate to transport their children to the event in Del Mar.
One of the grandparents of two of the children, Ramona Bingham, posted a photo of the bus that showed up to pick up the kids.
After the outrage was brought to KUSI’s attention, we reached out to Ramona Bingham, the mother a child who attended the STAR/PAL event.
Ramona Bingham told KUSI, “When the buses pulled up it was insulting. The shock factor, who made this decision? It was a very poor decision. We called the Sheriff’s Department to complain and they told us this was the first complaint they have received. We didn’t want our 8,9,10, and 11-year-old children riding on that bus. The City took them out of what they already label the “poor neighborhood” and they show up to the rich neighborhood on that bus. It is insulting. Myself and other parents were very offended, everyone knows what that bus is.”
KUSI also reached out to the Sheriff’s Department for comment. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department told us that the buses look like this (picture below) inside, there are bars on the windows, but otherwise it is just a bus inside. They added that they have transported children to events for years, at no cost to anyone.
The Sheriff’s Department full statement reads:
We strongly believe in making connections with the people we serve. These programs provide a platform to establish a dialogue and foster an understanding of the law enforcement community. We want the youngest members of the community to know they can always come to a deputy for help.
Regarding the photo, the bus service was provided for STAR/PAL which is a non-profit group that may not always have the resources to pay for a tour bus. Deputies took the kids to a Del Mar today so they can participate in a surf camp. STAR/PAL’s mission is to empower underserved youth to build a safer and more prosperous community by engaging with law enforcement and collaborative partners. When we receive the call for help from non-profit and community groups to provide assistance, we will always gladly oblige.
We also provide this service during the Special Olympics, bicycle giveaways, Shop with a Cop, Surf with a Cop, Teddy Bear Drive, as well as providing safety presentations at elementary schools among others.
The bus is also utilized for special events and turned into a Haunted Bus as an attraction during Light the Night Against Crime 5K for Crime Stoppers. We’ve also used the bus to help with evacuations during a wildfire.
There is one bus dedicated and used only for special events. All buses are cleaned every night. If they’re going to be used for special events, they go through an even more detailed cleaning.
It should be noted, our multi-functional buses are branded as the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. We use these buses to transport Special Olympic Athletes, grand jury members, new employees and volunteers for orientation, recruits for training, Explorer Academy Cadets (teen volunteers for law enforcement from across California), even Sheriffs and their spouses from all across the country during the National Sheriffs’ Association gathering in San Diego County.
Our goals are simple: support our partners in achieving their mission to serve our communities; ensure the children have a safe journey to their destination and for the children to have a positive encounter with law enforcement. We attached photos to this email, as you can see it’s a positive experience for everyone involved.
KUSI’s Allie Wagner covered the STAR/PAL event in Del Mar Thursday on Good Morning San Diego. Her story is below.