Sheriff’s Office, School District looking to boost police presence
Lee County Schools and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office held a joint press conference Thursday to address local concerns about a multi-fatality shooting at a high school in Broward County.
Undersheriff Carmine Marceno said he could not share specific details about the Sheriff’s Office operations and trainings for school safety, but he said deputies are trained to handle school shootings and other mass shooting scenarios.
“We do active shooter trainings both indoors and out,” Marceno said.
District Superintendent Greg Adkins said Lee County Schools has made its resources available to Broward County and will be sending a team of counselors to the high school to assist.
In Lee County’s schools, Adkins said more could be done for mental health services. While a counselor is stationed at each school, he said he’d like to see that number increase, as well as having other mental health support staff like psychologists and social works available for the student population.
“We as a community need to invest more in. Florida is ranked rather low when it comes to mental health services,” Adkins said. “Lee County doesn’t fund at a level we believe is adequate. We would of course support measures to increase mental health support, because we are seeing this continuing to be a concern within our schools.”
Marc Mora, the district’s executive director of Operations, said the district has invested in training both staff and students how to respond to an active shooter operation. The district is also researching new technology that can be installed into its new schools, such as Bonita Springs High School now under construction, that can react to a situation. There are video surveillance systems that can notify an administrator of a potential threat, Adkins said.
“The security of students is something we have to factor into every budget,” he said.
Adkins said the student body is predicted to increase by 1,500 to 1,800 students next year. The school district is working to budget for more school resource officers with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and is also in conversation with the Fort Myers Police Department to get its officers at Fort Myers schools. Some schools have to share an officer.
But having this police presence can offer a benefit to students beyond basic safety.
“One of the reasons our police are on campus is to develop relationships of trust with our students,” Adkins said. “So, If you do feel your safety and security is threatened, this is an individual you feel you could go to for help.”