Elementary students in Hernando County are welcoming new faces to their schools, as newly assigned School Resource Officers settle into their new assignments.
- Sheriff's Office pulled deputies from previous duties to serve in schools
- Families concerned about safety following Parkland shooting
- SROs to review safety procedures with administrators in near future
Hernando's school board recently approved guidelines that would put a deputy in every elementary school in the county. School resource officers were already working in the middle and high schools.
Deputy Ryan Brown started his new job at Deltona Elementary in Spring Hill on March 1.
“I was on the news,” Brown said. “Deltona Elementary School news -- co-anchored to get the face, get the name out there. Ever since I did that, they’ve been like 'Hey, Deputy Brown, Hey, Deputy Brown.'”
Brown is one of 10 elementary school resource officers in Hernando. The Sheriff’s office pulled those officers from patrol and other duties as part of the district’s effort to better protect children.
“Once we were able to identify who it is we wanted to pick to put in our school, we took a look at each school and the personalities of the deputies and tried to fit that, so that we would have a good fit with the deputies and the elementary school,” said Captain Harold Hutchinson.
Brown said he has developed his own school routine over his first three days on the job.
“I normally come here in the morning and just walk around the school just to make sure everything’s hunkered down and safe throughout the day,” said Brown. “I just walk around and interact with the children just to let them know hey I'm here for them.
"There's no reason for them to be concerned," he continued. "'I'm here for you,' kind of build some rapport with the students and the staff as well.”
Parents said they’re happy to see him at Deltona Elementary. Many families have been worried after watching the tragedy unfolded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
“You never know,” said parent Neysa Hernandez. “Somebody can come at any time. I’m just glad he’s here.”
Brown said he’s happy to be there to provide relief and to make sure the students are safe.
In the future, Hernando County authorities hope to put together programs for elementary school children to teach them how to protect themselves.
Deputies with the Hernando Sheriff’s Office have also been talking with administrators from each school about their safety procedures. Authorities hope to begin assessing those procedures next week.