At least 20 trespass incidents documented on SWFL school campuses in 2018
Schools across Florida have beefed up security in the past year: including surveillance cameras, new video door locks and the present of additional law enforcement on campus.
“As of right now, there is not one unlocked door on this campus, until they unlock this front door to let somebody in, “ said Tony Pribble, the district safety specialist and public information officer for Desoto County Public Schools.
The district is the latest in Southwest Florida to install Aiphones, a video phone doorbell system that allows schools to screen people before they come onto campus.
Campuses in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties are also equipped with the same mechanism.
But trespassing incident reports from law enforcement obtained by WINK News, show that it’s not often that trespassing incidents happen in the front office where the added security is in place.
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Schools have the ability to issue trespass warnings to anyone making a disturbance or who they feel may be of danger to the health and safety of students. If a person is trespassed and returns, law enforcement can make an arrest.
Reports indicate that schools commonly request arrests of students who had been previously suspended or expelled, who are not supposed to be on school grounds.
At Lorenzo Walker High School a student expelled for making threats against the school showed back up on campus the same day of the Parkland shooting: February 14, 2018.
The student left without incident, but an administrator reported it to law enforcement afterwards and the student was arrested.
“As a district, we choose to utilize our Youth Relations Bureau (YRB) deputies when it relates to school trespass incidents. It is beneficial to have documented reports of such incidents,” said Collier schools spokesperson Jennifer Kupiec in an email.
Reports show that nothing is being taken lightly, either.
For instance, pulling a fire alarm is no longer looked at as a school prank. Cape Police arrested a juvenile who came into Oasis Elementary Charter School and pulled the alarm.
“Things that you used to not have to think about, now you think about more,” said Kimberly Zambito, the principal at Collier Charter Academy.
Zambito has not had any trespass incidents on her campus this year, but said she’s thankful they have a member of the Collier Sheriff’s office on campus as a school resource officer at all times.
In Desoto county, a new partnership with the Arcadia Police Department is allowing officers to patrol all their campuses.
“We have them park their car right in front of the school. 99 times out of 100 that person is not even going to attempt anything if they know there is a law enforcement officer on staff here,” said Pribble.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas act requires every school in the state to have a sworn school resource officer or guardian on campus.
In Southwest Florida, at least one law enforcement officer is assigned to every campus. At some middle school and high schools, there are two officers.