Safety measures increase at Alachua County elementary schools

By on January 24th, 2013

Instead of getting to know new students after winter break, every elementary school in Alachua County had to get to know their new deputy. After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last month, schools across America started exploring new ways to keep their students safe.

One way, said Lt. Todd Kelly of the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, is to redirect police units to make sure schools are in good hands.

Before, the county had a traffic unit and a cops unit, which is a community-oriented policing unit. Both units have now been temporarily dismantled and reassigned to elementary schools throughout Alachua County.

“Instead of reporting to a shift where they go out and enforce traffic laws, we’ve done a shift in priorities and put them in schools until we can work out a permanent resolution,” Kelly said.

One deputy is assigned to each elementary school in the county, and they are all fit for the job. Kelly said every deputy at the agency goes through a direct threat training on an annual basis and sometimes even more frequently.

Kelly said every deputy is capable of protecting a school, but it’s their real-life training that prepares them for the worst possible scenario.

Jackie Johnson, spokeswoman of Alachua County Public Schools, said a lobbying effort to gain state funding, which would keep deputies in schools, is among the prepared resolutions.

School systems have endured very deep budget cuts over the last few years, as have counties, cities and law enforcement agencies, she said.

“They simply don’t have the money to fund school resource officers at all elementary schools,” she said. “That’s going to have to come from either the state or the federal government.”

For now, no additional funding is being used for the current safety efforts that have been in effect since early January, Kelly said.

Along with training for extreme cases, deputies are also able to address issues that nearly every school faces – bullying, for example.

The role of a deputy is not confined to the school’s hallways and parking lots. Being an alliance for the community is arguably as crucial, Johnson said.

“A lot of times you find that a strong bond of trust develops between the students, parents and their school’s resource officer because it’s somebody that they see, talk to and work with on a daily basis,” she said.

Rebekah Geier edited this story online.

This entry was posted in Education and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

More Stories in Education

World Teacher's Day was recently celebrated, but in Florida some teachers say the best gift they could receive would be the end of high-stakes testing.

Standardized Testing Affects Alachua County Public School’s Teaching Practices

A lack of accountability with standardized testing is a common problem facing Florida schools, causing Parent Teacher Associations around Florida and other organizations to promote more positive learning environments. Alachua County Public Schools has recognized the frustration the local educators are feeling.

The Acrosstown Repertory Theatre put on two productions of “Banned!?” Saturday, a play that discusses children’s books that have been banned. Displayed above is the re-enactment of “Where The Wild Things Are,” which has been repeatedly challenged for “romanticizing anger” to children.

Book Lovers Celebrate Banned Books Week

Annual Banned Books Week from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3 was celebrated at UF in the Plaza of the Americas on Thursday. Students read literature aloud from different authors who’s work has been challenged in public schools. The goal for Banned Books Week is to celebrate the liberty to read.

student Arthur Seabrooks waters cucumber plants Wednesday morning at the Loften High location in the greenhouse. Seabrooks, 18, said he enjoys everything about his program.

New Location Spurs Growth for Farm to School Program

Alachua County’s Farm to School to Work program, a place for disabled students to work in gardening and farming, expanded to a new location this Fall. This gives the students more space to grow and process healthy foods to distribute to local schools.

Inverness Middle School is the second middle school in Citrus County to host the Homework Diner program. The free tutoring program offers students help in math and a complimentary meal twice a week.

‘Homework Diner’ to Expand to Inverness Middle School

Students participating in a tutoring program at Inverness Middle School will get more than a grade boost. United Way of Citrus County’s Homework Diner program will give select students free math tutoring after school. The program also offers a complimentary dinner and a ride home […]


A Former Cedar Key Motel’s Biological Future

The University of Florida purchased the Gulf Side Motel in Cedar Key and is transforming it into a biology research center. Students will have a chance to take courses in the heart of a recreational tourism and shellfish aquaculture area.

Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments