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Public safety: The tip of the spear

By Staff | Apr 4, 2018

Student safety is the School District of Lee County’s No. 1 goal, Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins told those attending a joint media conference recently held in conjunction with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

It’s a heartbreaking commentary on our times, indeed, when keeping our children safe must take priority over educating them, but that is our new reality, one which both the school district and the Sheriff’s Office take seriously.

We thank them for this.

For a variety of reasons reaching deep into our social fabric, there are no easy or simple answers in the wake of school shootings such as the one in Parkland, where 17 were killed and 14 wounded.

But The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act is a start as is the local effort to put a first implementation component into effect immediately here in Lee County.

When students returned to school on March 26 from spring break, there were additional school resource officers on campus.

The Sheriff’s Office Youth Services Division will grow to 100 members by immediately reassigning supervisors, lieutenants, sergeants and patrol deputies, Lee County Undersheriff Carmine Marceno said, adding, “Our goal is to have a deputy assigned to each and every school as quickly as possible” in the “all hands on deck” effort.

In addition, the Sheriff’s Office will increase its presence at Lee County Schools by directing: “patrol deputies to use school facilities to complete reports; detectives to use school facilities as a base of operations whenever possible and patrol deputies to increase their already frequent area checks of schools during every shift.”

“I want that omnipresence,” Marceno said. “I want people to see our deputies everywhere possible, as much as possible, and as often as possible.”

We understand this is no panacea.

We – and public safety personnel and educators unlike – understand that much more needs to be done.

But as recent events have tragically taught us, the days of “soft duty” in the schools where being Officer Friendly was pretty much the job description are long past.

Today’s SROs face a responsibility as heavy as that carried by those on patrol for, unfortunately, on patrol they must be.

Law enforcement is, and has been, the tip of the spear when it comes to public safety.

Reassigning 100 personnel from the top down while adding another 40 officers to schools to make our campuses safer is an appropriate start.

We thank those responsible for their speed.

We thank them for being proactive.

And we thank those who protect and serve.

– Reporter editorial