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Broward Sheriff, School District At Odds Over Who Should Provide Security To Schools

Jun 12, 2018
Originally published on June 11, 2018 1:53 pm

Members of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission drilled presenters from the Department of Education Friday, on the second and final day of meetings for this month.

A major area of concern for members is holding the state accountable for making sure schools carry out the safety measures outlined in SB 7026, The Marjory Stoneman Douglas School Safety Act, passed in the wake of the February mass shooting.

Commission chair Bob Gualtieri said school safety plans and active shooter drills should come from the districts, not the DOE. The state, he said, won't know the unique vulnerabilities at every school.

“Training should be individualized,” said Gualtieri. It “should be based upon the assessment of each school.”

But Gualtieri, who is Sheriff of Pinellas county, still wants to ensure the DOE implements meaningful change.

“It needs to be made sure that what is done and implemented in this bill is just not 'check the box and get it done,'” Gualtieri said. “It needs to be done in a meaningful way.”

In Broward County, there’s a disagreement over who should provide security to schools.

The county sheriff’s office and public school district made their feelings known to the commission.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office School Resource Officer Unit dissolved in the early 2000s, due to budget cuts. SRO’s were instead decentralized to police agencies around the county, said Major Nichole Anderson. 

Now, there is no unified command for the school officers. There also is no standardized system for schools and officers to share information about at-risk students between them. Essentially, there is no standard procedure.

Anderson said there’s a better way to get that uniformity.

“It is our recommendation that a school board police department be established,” she said. “We have very good examples of that in Miami-Dade County and Palm Beach County.”

But the school district said it doesn’t have the funding or expertise to create its own police force.

“As a school system, our core business is teaching and learning,” said Broward School Board Chief of Staff Jeff Moquin. “We’re not in the law enforcement business.”

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas School Safety Act mandates every school campus in the state have an SRO.

The commission agreeed that a third day will be added to the next commission meeting scheduled for early July.

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