12 elementaries may have deputies patrolling campus
Published: Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 7:55 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 7:55 p.m.
Alachua County's law enforcement may be temporarily patrolling public elementary schools all day long once classes resume on Jan. 3.
The Alachua County Sheriff's Office and the School Board are considering a proposal that would place armed deputies at the 12 elementary schools that lie outside Gainesville city limits for the duration of the school day.
Those schools are Alachua, Archer, Chiles, Hidden Oak, Idylwild, Lake Forest, Meadowbrook, Newberry, Shell, Waldo and Wiles.
Art Forgey, ASO spokesman, said Sheriff Sadie Darnell and Superintendent Dan Boyd have to sign a proposal for it to take effect. If the agreement is signed, off-duty deputies would be assigned to patrol the schools from 7:30 a.m. until 30 minutes after dismissal at the expense of the Sheriff's Office. The deputies would be paid overtime for their time spent patroling the schools.
The Gainesville Police Department is exploring the possibility of a similar arrangement with the School Board that would affect the remaining schools, according to spokesman Officer Ben Tobias.
"If money wasn't an issue and staffing wasn't an issue, we would love to have an officer at every school," Tobias said.
Currently, school resource officers are provided by both GPD and the Sheriff's Office to middle and high schools, and the agencies share the cost with the School Board.
Tobias and Forgey said both agencies are searching for ways to permanently fund school resource officers in elementary schools.
Eileen Roy, chair of the School Board, said she was pleased with the possibility of having officers in elementary schools because it would increase safety and help students develop a healthy relationship with law enforcement.
Forgey said the proposal is meant to be a temporary measure until a more permanent school safety plan is developed by a recently formed work group that includes representatives from law enforcement and the school district.
"We're going to do everything that we can to keep those elementary school children safe," Forgey said.
Last week, National Rifle Association vice president Wayne LaPierre suggested placing armed guards in every school in the country, proposing that active and retired law enforcement and military, along with volunteers, could be used immediately to protect schools.
Roy said she felt comfortable with police officers in schools, but questioned using any other kind of personnel.
"I'd want to be very sure of the qualifications that person has," she said.
She also echoed both Forgey and Tobias when considering where the money would come from to pay for such a large, permanent endeavor.
"All that is dependent on funding," she said.
Contact Joey Flechas at 338-3166 or email@example.com.
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