SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Sarasota School District finalizes its plans to create its own police force, but what about the sheriff’s plan both sides discussed last month?
“I have spoken with the sheriff personally, called him again today,” said Todd Bowden, Superintendent of the Sarasota School District.
While the school board moves ahead with plan B by forming its own police force, the Sarasota sheriff’s office is still working on plan A; recruiting candidates for the School Resource Deputy Two program or SDR2. The sheriff’s office says it has not heard from the district to cancel the program.
10News asked the superintendent if the sheriff should stop recruiting candidates for the SRD2 program? Bowden replied, “I do not have a contract with the sheriff. I have no intention of entering into a contract with the sheriff to provide SRD2 to our district next year.”
When asked if that included elementary, middle or high school? Bowden said, “That is correct.”
“We will do everything right, no shortcuts,” said Michael Andreas, Executive Director of Safety, Security and Emergency Management for the school district.
That’s the assurance Andreas gave the school board during Tuesday’s workshop. Sarasota will soon post 29 positions for its new school-based police force, including 23 officers for elementary schools by August 13.
“The timeline is doable, but it’s very aggressive,” said Bowden.
Some school board members worry the district will sacrifice quality for speed.
“I don’t want 'rent-a-cop',” said Shirley Brown, a school board member.
Superintendent Todd Bowden says their officers will be as qualified as local law enforcement officers. Bowden said, “The standards for law enforcement officers comes from the FDLE, regardless if employed by us, the sheriff’s department, or police department. The fact we’re using sworn law enforcement personnel should provide them assurance.”
The school board voted 3-2 to create a school-based police force. School Board Chair Bridget Ziegler and board member Eric Robinson voted against it.
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