Parents alarmed by lack of officer presence within local schools

Elementary schools in the area share one student resource officer with three other campuses, potentially leaving young students vulnerable to violence.

That is exactly what is alarming parents.

“Our children are important,” said Fort Myers parent Evelyn Williams. “I agree we should have trained officers in every facility—every bit helps.”

Lee County is sounding off after hearing that only half the public schools have a full-time officer on campus, according to the Lee County Teacher’s Union.

“There’s over 100 sites here—unfortunately a lot of the schools have to share SROs,” said Dr. Kerr Fazzone with the Florida Education Association in Lee County. “We want well, highly trained law enforcement in the schools—no guns in teachers’ hands.”

On Friday, Gov. Rick Scott called for a $500 million school safety packages that includes one deputy per every 1,000 students.

“Change is coming…and it will come fast,” Gov. Scott said. “This is a moment when our state can come together around a common sense set of actions.”

Right now, Tallahassee gives Lee County the most for school safety finding in the area—more than $1.6 million, nearly all of it going to officers on campus.

But since 2008, resource officers have seen their budget cut by half a million dollars, which means less of these officers outside schools.

“They’ve gutted this line item, and they wonder why these tragedies happen,” Fazzone said.

“Let’s sell cupcakes—let’s do something. I’m sure if we all joined in, the money wouldn’t be an issue, even if we had to go through the private sector,” Williams added.

The school district actually started working weeks ago to add a second resource officer to the area’s five largest high schools.

Reporter:John-Carlos Estrada
Writer:Erica Brown