TAMPA, Fla. -- The first day of school is fast approaching for students around the Bay area.
School safety has been a major concern for parents, educators, and students this past year.
With gun violence and mass shooting in public consciousness, school districts are taking measures to assure students are safe.
Here are some county procedures to ensure student safety along with the responsibilities of SROs and school safety guards:
School Resource Officers will be responsible for access control and maintaining the security of the campus while creating positive relationships with students and staff so they know they can go to the officer if they hear or see something that concerns them.
Hillsborough schools encourage students to 'See something, say something.'
Weapons are prohibited on campus and random metal detections at the middle and high schools will take place throughout the year.
Pinellas County Schools will hire an additional 82 officers before the start of the next school year. The district will hire a combination of armed security officers and school resource officers to ensure that every school will have either an armed security officer or school resource officer in place prior to the start of the next school year. The individuals hired as security officers are currently completing 132 hours of training through the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and will undergo an extensive screening process. The school security officers will only focus on safety and security, which, according to PIO Lisa Wolf, exceeds the responsibilities outlined in the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program.
Pinellas County schools will also be doing the following in preparation for the 2018-2019 school year:
- Placing an armed security officer at every school campus
- Full review of every campus security plan
- Full physical assessment of every campus by school staff and local law enforcement
- Training for all school leaders and staff members on active shooter scenarios and mental health awareness
- Refined processes for threat assessments
- Increased mental health services
- Age-appropriate training and education for students on safety procedures
- Active shooter drills on a regular basis
- Partnership with Sandy Hook Promise to enhance resources and training for students and staff in middle and high schools
School safety guards will be responsible for ensuring elementary schools are secure, classroom doors and outside gates are locked, unauthorized individuals are not on campus, and helping with arrival and dismissal. Guards will carry a gun, a taser, and handcuffs, and will be allowed to detain, but must call law enforcement for any arrest.
Lockers and backpacks will be checked if the school receives a tip.
A new School Safety Guardian program has been created in collaboration with the Polk County Sheriff's Office. Elementary schools and Learning Centers will have a School Safety Guardian. Through the Polk County Sheriff's Office guardian program, the SSG will be allowed to carry a firearm on campus. Each SSG must undergo a background check, drug test, psychological exam, and 144 hours of specialized training.
Middle and High schools will have a School Resource Officer from a local law enforcement agency.
All backpacks and lockers are subject to search upon reasonable suspicion.