As the new school year kicks off, the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office and the School District of Osceola County are working together to ensure the safety of the students, teachers, and admin staff in schools. New safety measure will include SRO body cams, realtime school cams, and anti-bullying measures.
At a news conference at the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday, Sheriff Marcos Lopez shared a video showing the intense training that his deputies have been going through over the summer break. This after nineteen students and two teachers were fatally shot, and seventeen others were wounded at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas in May.
“Our job is to ensure your children are safe at school. We understand the enormous responsibility of making sure your kids come home safely at the end of every school day,” Osceola Sheriff Marcos Lopez shared at the opening of the news conference on Tuesday.
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office will be using real-time crime cameras in all schools to monitor any safety threats that might arise. The new cams will allow for a quick response to any potentially dangerous situation, and all of the Sheriff’s Office SROs will be wearing body cams at high schools, with all school SROs to be equipped with body cams soon – giving the Sheriff’s Office the ability to have LIVE feeds from the school campuses as needed, according to Sheriff Marcos Lopez.
“We do have trained School Resource Officers in every district managed school, and as Sheriff Lopez said, we have two in each of our comprehensive high schools. These officers have been chosen carefully by all three law enforcement agencies. They want to be a part of our students’ lives, they’ve demonstrated great willingness to get to know our students,” Superintendent Dr. Debra Pace shared at the Sheriff’s Office.
The Superintendent Pace also shared that Osceola County School District will have seven new health professionals in schools looking for signals like changes in grades or behavior, and if a “red flag” is witnessed they’ll be communicating with local law enforcement.
The Osceola Sheriff’s Office has also established a new anti-bullying campaign that will focus on raising awareness of bullying and will encourage students to report bullying to teachers, mental health counselors, or SROs.
“Time and time again, we hear of school shooters having endured terrible bullying as a child that’s caused them to act in the horrific manner. If we can prevent bullying, we may prevent a shooting,” Sheriff Lopez said. “However, we can’t do this on our own. Students, teachers, and parents must intervene if they are concerned about a student’s behavior.”
Bullying and any other suspicious activity can be reported directly to school staff or through apps like Fortify Florida or Crimeline’s Speakout, both allow for anonymous reporting and provide a direct line to a local 911 dispatch, according to the sheriff.
“Together, we are committed to protecting our teachers, our students, and our schools, and disruptive acts will not be tolerated,” Pace said. “If there is an active shooter lockdown drill, or an active shooter situation, everybody knows what to do. We’re going to move into action to protect as many of our people as we can,” Dr. Pace said.