Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco is standing by his SRO deputy who body slammed a student to the ground at Sunlake high school on Tuesday.
Body camera video shows that deputy, Richard Stackon, first spending several minutes calmly trying to get that student to follow him out of the school cafeteria.
Now that we have that video, many of you on social media are siding with the school resource officer, saying that student was out of line.
With the new state security mandate requiring some kind of security officer on every campus, you wanted to know what kind of training SRO's will receive with such a time crunch.
Schools only have until July 1st to make it happen
We went straight to Senior Commander Dale Tharp. He's the spokesman for the Florida Association of School Resource Officers.
This may not be what you want to hear, but Commander Tharp says law enforcement agencies across Florida may have to rely on rookies to keep our schools and roads safe.
He explains some agencies are waving the two-year requirement, which is not a state law, but is put in place to help rookies get experience and spend time as a patrol deputy before being able to apply to become an SRO.
Pinellas County has been the only local law enforcement agency that confirmed they're going with this option. Starting a rookie at $46,410.
The agency has made it clear, that most of their applicants are retired law enforcement officers.
Training for SROs is provided by the Attorney General's Office and includes:
- keeping schools safe from a threat
- training in de-escalation techniques
- recognizing students with special needs
Every year juvenile laws are changed, so these officers need to know what those updated laws are.
Commander Tharp says the training takes about six months, which he says is concerning because SROs aren't supervised like patrol deputies are.
“Trying to get them hired with all the training in six months is almost impossible,” says Tharp. “It’s concerning to me but the best part is that there are cameras everywhere. So, if they mess up then those officers don’t need to be there.”
Another option is taking experienced deputies and training them to secure our schools.
This is the approach Escambia county is taking, where Commander Tharp works.
They're taking 44 officers off the streets and into schools, which sounds great, but then it leaves 44 positions open. Which, Tharp says will likely be filled by rookies.
A spokesperson for Sarasota County says they may create their own campus police. They're working with the school district to see if that's the route they want to take.
In the meantime, they’re continuing to hire school resource deputies.
"We are in limbo right now in Sarasota County. If you have been following along, you might be familiar with the SRDII Program we launched and are still hiring for. The school district, however, recently alluded to creating their own campus police so we are not sure what they are going to decide. We sent a contract over to them a few weeks ago to staff their schools with our SRDIIs. We have asked for their decision by May 31," the spokesperson said.
The Polk County School Board decided Tuesday night to go with a different option.
They voted unanimously to hire 90 "School Safety Guardians"
They will be required to go through the state-mandated guardian training.
That includes 80 hours of basic firearms training, 16 hours of pistol training, 8 hours of defensive tactics and 12 hours of legal issue training.
It will cost more than three-and-a-half million dollars, and a little less each year to keep it running.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office told us in a statement that the agency is still working out a plan and will be releasing details in the future.
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