ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The Orange County Sheriff's Office is defending its school safety plan after sources told News 6 some deputies didn’t find out they would be working as school resource officers until late Friday. Monday marked the start of the school year across the county.
Sheriff's Office officials said the department was prepared for the school year, even with the new statewide mandated changes under the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Safety Act.
On the first day back to school, News 6 saw numerous patrol cars parked outside of schools. Officials said the Orange County Sheriff’s Office has reassigned deputies, pulling them from different departments to make sure all schools are covered, including pulling deputies from the motor unit.
The Sheriff's Office said 38 deputies were reassigned ahead of Monday. Department officials said they hope to get funding to hire and train 75 new deputies who will serve as school resource officers.
Of the 38 deputies who were reassigned to schools, the Sheriff’s Office said all of them volunteered weeks ago.
"And then those 38 who were temporarily assigned will go back to their regular assignments," Orange County Sheriff's Office Capt. Carlos Torres said. "We pull from various areas in order to meet the need, so this is another need that we need to fulfill."
Torres said several options for school safety were considered long before Friday, even though the finalized plan was not put into place until three days before the first day of school.
Shaun Salmon, a parent of two Orange County School District students, said she's satisfied with the new required changes.
"With all of the safety measures that the schools have taken for this school year, I am very happy," Salmon said, adding that her biggest concern is making sure her kids are safe and the SROs working in children's school are fully trained.
"As a parent, I’m fine, I just want to know that something is happening where safety measures are a concern in our schools," Salmon said.
Across Central Florida, several counties and jurisdictions also did similar reassignments this year to meet statewide school safety mandates.