School Resource Officers – Sheriff, superintendent ask county for funding together

Kile Brewer
Posted 4/11/18

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Before Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of County Commissioners, Sheriff Darryl Daniels and School Superintendent Addison Davis asked for help from the county.

Daniels said …

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School Resource Officers – Sheriff, superintendent ask county for funding together

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Before Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of County Commissioners, Sheriff Darryl Daniels and School Superintendent Addison Davis asked for help from the county.

Daniels said that with the state requirement that every school be staffed with a school resource officer, the sheriff’s office will need about $4.5 million to hire 48 additional deputies. Daniels said that his budget will not cover this cost, and that hiring needs to start now if he needs to hire 48 people before the start of the 2018-2019 school year.

The 48 deputies would place 36 current, tenured deputies or newly hired, pre-trained School Resource Officers in schools, provide six reserve officers, one officer to act as a full-time training officer, one investigator, and four sergeants to allow for a 10 to 1 deputy to sergeant ratio. Daniels said that no rookie hires would be placed in schools, but would be used to fill spots left vacant when placing existing officers at campuses across the county. The $4.5 million would cover all costs from salaries to benefits to equipment and cars for these new hires.

Daniels told the board that they are not obligated to pay for any of this, and that the school district would be the primary financier, but he wanted to present his case to the board and let them know he has a hole to fill in his budget.

“What I’m saying and asking for as the Sheriff is let’s not politicize this subject, let’s do what’s in the best interest of the county and in the best interest of these kids,” Daniels said. “No one wants to have raising taxes or millage rates to be associated with their name, but none of us expected this to fall into our laps this budget year, so we’re adapting to an ever-changing dynamic.”

Commissioners took a moment to discuss the presentation, with all members of the board recognizing the dire needs of the Sheriff’s Office in standing up 48 new officers in only four months, while also noting things like Hurricane Irma and Matthew cleanups that have left the county several million dollars short of where they would normally been.

“We all have to work together,” Bolla said. “Ultimately this looks like a tax issue at the end of the day, and I would hope that the citizens would understand that and possibly when the school board goes out for an additional ad valorem they can understand where it’s coming from. Having said that, it’s incumbent on us to step up and make sure this happens.”

After Daniels left the microphone, Davis addressed the BCC.

“I do believe openly that the school district owns this,” Davis said. “However, I come to you as superintendent of schools along with the school board to ask for an extension of help.”

Davis explained that they would be able to contribute about $1.5 million or slightly more to the effort, but that they would need the county’s help in this startup of the new SRO program.

Once equipment costs and hiring are covered and the system is in place, Davis said the school would fully own the program going forward. Outside the $1.5-1.6 million the school would provide, the county would need to fund about $1.2 million to get things going.

Though the commission seemed surprised by the numbers, they acknowledged that this is something that has to be done, both to comply with state standards, as well as for the general safety of the county, especially the safety of its young students.

Commissioner Gayward Hendry asked Davis if he had considered allowing teachers who have Conceal and Carry Permits to bring guns on campuses, which Davis said would not only violate the state’s guardian program, which allows administrators and other school staff who do not have a full teaching schedule to carry on campus, but would also take focus away from what he intends to be happening in schools – education.

“Our teachers should be armed with additional funding, with inspiration and the resources they need in order to improve teaching and learning. They should not be armed with weapons to carry in the classroom,” Davis said.

At the end of the discussion, members of the board agreed to revisit the topic and make a formal decision at a later meeting, but advised Daniels to start the estimated eight-week hiring process now for the new deputies because there will at least be some money in place after the July 1 start of the state’s budget year.

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