San Benito High School student-athletes have been conditioning in cohorts since last year, hoping to compete against other school starting in February. 2021 file photo: Juan Reyes

New security measures at Andy Hardin Stadium went into effect for the Oct. 14 Hollister High School football game, which proceeded without any major public safety disturbances in the crowd, according to school and law enforcement officials.

Hollister High School and San Benito High School District officials announced the new security measures in an Oct. 3 letter to students and parents. The notification followed reports of numerous incidents of violence among attendees at the Sept. 23 Hollister High game against Salinas High.

During that game, San Benito County Sheriff’s deputies arrested several suspects—mostly juveniles and one adult—in relation to numerous reports of fighting within the audience at the stadium, according to authorities. A male juvenile was cut with a knife during one of the altercations.

The new measures that went into effect Oct. 14—which was Homecoming and the first Balers home game since Sept. 23—center around the school district’s new contract with Knowledge Saves Lives, a private company that provides security consulting and training for schools, churches, health care organizations, public agencies, insurance companies and similar clients.

Former Hollister Police Chief David Westrick is the Director of Client Services for Knowledge Saves Lives, says the Oct. 3 letter signed by SBHSD Board of Trustees President John Corrigan, Superintendent Shawn Tennenbaum and HHS Principal Adrian Ramirez.

Safety measures in effect at the HHS stadium as of Oct. 14 include online-only ticket purchasing; no bags or backpacks allowed inside the venue; no wagons or carts allowed inside; spectators are subject to metal detector screening upon entry; no loitering inside the stadium; attendance is limited to those directly affiliated with HHS or the visiting team (with student ID for high school students), and children in grades K-8 must be with an adult; and anyone not affiliated with either playing team or school must be approved by HHS officials. Typical prohibitions of alcohol, drugs and items that could be used as weapons are also spelled out in the school’s new precautions.

Authorities said even though the new safety measures might lead to slower entry into home games, their implementation at the Oct. 14 game against Alisal High went smoothly.

“While it does take a little longer to get into our football games with the new security measures, our internal staff and security guards did a great job of efficiently getting our spectators through the lines to enter the stadium,” Ramirez said. “We are fortunate to have such a supportive group of staff, law enforcement and consultants to ensure this was well planned and implemented.”

Sheriff Eric Taylor praised school officials and the new security measures. He noted there was one incident at the Oct. 14 game that deputies quickly de-escalated, when four Hollister students went to the visiting spectators’ side “to try to start trouble.” One of the juveniles was arrested for trying to hit a deputy, and all four aggressors were ejected from the game.

Still, Taylor “applauds” the school for bringing in a security consultant and implementing their recommendations.

“Any change in policy comes with pushback. But Dr. Tennenbaum and Principal Ramirez showed courage in doing what was right even though it may not have been popular,” Taylor said. “I support Hollister High School in their efforts to put student and public safety first above all else. We will stand with them.”

Tennenbaum noted the importance of the school’s support from the sheriff’s office and the San Benito County Juvenile Probation Department.

“We also thank our community for its patience and understanding, knowing that the safety and security of our students and fans is always a priority,” Tennenbaum said.

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.


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