As schools prepare for the return of over 70,000 children to classrooms in Osceola County on August 10, the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office and School District of Osceola County and their School Resource Officers have been working hard to ensure the safety of the students, teachers, and administrative staff into the unlikely event of a school shooter engaging a school in the district. Although a school shooting is highly unlikely, school resource officers have spent several days specifically training for this worst-case scenario.

Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez and the Superintendent Dr. Mark Shanoff held a join press conference on Wednesday to talk about their training and how it will keep our schools as safe as possible.

“We want all kids to have an environment where their focus is strictly on learning and not fear,” said Sheriff Lopez. “I want to thank the Osceola School District and Superintendent, Dr. Shanoff, for their partnership – not only for the use of schools so we can do realistic training but for everything they do throughout the year. We are looking forward to continuing our anti-bullying campaign, cookies with a croc, and we are all excited to help make this school year a success”, added Sheriff Lopez.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, the training focuses on all deputies confronting the gunman immediately. Deputies will not be “setting up” or “staging”. They have been trained to run towards the threat and engage the threat. That point being made in reference to the Uvalde Robb Elementary School shooting on May 25 where  armed officers failed to immediately launch a cohesive and aggressive response to stop the shooter and possibly save more children.

“There is nothing more important to me as the new leader of the Osceola County Schools, and to our senior staff and our administrators than the safety and security of our students. It’s critically important that we work with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office to gain the public’s trust that our students are safe everyday, every class, all throughout the year,” Superintendent Dr, Mark Shanoff said during Wednesday Press Conference.

The Sheriff’s Office says they are utilizing a real-time crime center, where members of the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office can take over the cameras at school. By getting this access, it will help identify where the shooter is located so deputies can get there as quickly as possible.

They are also testing a new gun detection system this school year. In partnership with the School System, software will be installed that helps detect the presence of a gun. Once detected, the system alerts the Sheriff’s Office directly. School resource officers will be notified immediately and additional units will be dispatched. This technology will hopefully prevent things from happening before they start.

Additionally, the training for the school resource officers also included:

  • Updates about new intelligence or training tactics and techniques.
  • The juvenile citation program.
  • The rules, responsibilities, and expectations of the schools agreements.
  • Shields and Body Worn Cameras.

Since taking office, Sheriff Lopez has ensured all members on patrol have body cameras. He has also issued cameras to all SROs assigned to high schools. The Sheriff intends to have additional cameras to outfit all SROs in all schools within Osceola County.

When Dr. Shanoff was asked about KPD’s backup plan to utilize guardians to fill SRO positions in the event that there is a need to do so. Kissimmee’s plan was a topic of discussion during Tuesday’s school board meeting.

“My experience with guardians is similar to that of the sheriff, when I was Chief Operating Officer in Volusia County we had Guardians in the Elementary Schools. The Guardians went through the same firearms training. They went through the same scenario training that the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office puts guardians through for our charter schools. I’m comfortable moving forward, if we do have a need, with a guardian protecting and providing life safety for our schools,” Superintendent Dr. Mark Shanoff shared.