LEE COUNTY, Fla.- The School District of Lee County and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office have announced the addition of 10 deputies to be placed in rotation at local elementary schools, effective January 15.
Both Sheriff Mike Scott and Superintendent Dr. Joseph Burke agree that an increase in security at the elementary level is of paramount importance. The 10 deputies that will assume these roles are highly trained and seasoned law enforcement officers. Each deputy has considerable experience in dealing with school-based procedures and staff, as well as the effective management of all types of emergency and crisis situations.
The increase in security will not affect the budget of either organization for this fiscal year.
The 10 deputies will each be responsible for patrolling a few different schools.
As resource officers they'll be an extra watchful eye on campus, but also interact and work with the kids. Deputy C. Tyus worked at Hector Cafferata Elementary School in Cape Coral today. He says, "it's the kids, it's all for the kids. When we're not scrutinizing the perimeter or checking the area, we get to work with the kids, counsel them, educate the kids, its pretty awesome." He has experience working as a school resource officer in Lee County high schools. "Initially when a law enforcement officer comes on campus people are like woah what's going on. But once they realize we're also the bringers of good information and good tidings, they're more receptive to us."
He believes the extra security at elementary schools is a good thing. "We're finally covering the whole gammet of the education system and that's what we need to do. I've already been congratulated by many parents and thank you we applaud you being here, and the schools have been receptive. I love it. It's the way it should be."
Some parents tell us it gives them a greater piece of mind when dropping off their kids at school. Bernard Person says, "I think it's great, it's a great idea. Anybody that's in law enforcement should be at every high school and elementary school, yes."
Angela Salender came to pick up her second grader this afternoon and was happy to see the extra security. "I love it. I think the security for the kids is terrific. We're on a main road at this school and anybody could just get in this line. I know they have them in the high school and I like that, I think with the little kids too it's a great idea to help keep them safe."
District security director Patrick Hayhurst says this is a temporary fix for the remainder of the school year, until they can take another look at the budget. He says this will fill the gaps for the rest of the school year, and give parents a greater sense of security. "We can only do so much with locks on doors and windows but we felt that the SRO presence is not only important for security but all SROs are trained highly in education," he says.
He says protecting the kids is the number one priority. "They're our national treasure, our future. We have to protect them," he adds. He says all schools will receive equal protection from the resource officers.
All middle and high schools already have permanent resource officers on each campus.