School resource officers are one of the most important security measures any district can employ. This is a program in which schools and local law enforcement have worked hand-in-hand to help improve safety and security on campuses. In an emergency, having a trained and armed police officer at each school can help save lives and limit property loss.
Police and sheriff’s departments across the country also recognize the deterrent value to criminals by having a dedicated officer at each school. It’s been a win-win situation.
But the recent economic downturn has put tremendous pressure on both school districts and law enforcement departments. Recently, Broward County (Fla.) Public Schools–the nation’s sixth largest school district–learned that the Broward County Sheriff’s Office may pull its deputies from school campuses beginning with the new school year.
For the past 10 years, the department has provided officers to patrol Broward schools. Sheriff Al Lamberti said he doesn’t want to cut the program, but may have no choice because he is under pressure from his county commission to cut his budget by $60 million.
“I hate to see this one go, because the work is so comprehensive, so much more that people realize, I think,” he was quoted as saying.
I’d hate to see this program go as well. I understand that government agencies are under tremendous financial pressures, but how can be put a price on the safety of our kids?
Patrick Fiel is public safety advisor for ADT Security Services and a former executive director of school security for Washington, D.C. Public School System. He also served 22 years in the Army Military Police Corps, where his responsibilities included day-to-day security operations at the West Point Military Academy. During his time with ADT, Fiel has conducted more than 100 television, radio, newspaper, and magazine interviews as a public and school safety expert.
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