Orange County hires allotment of SROs; 21 deputies needed

State mandate requires armed guards at every school

By Jerry Askin - Reporter

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - EDITOR'S NOTE: The Orange County Sheri'ff Office informed News 6 on Tuesday that the 21 full-time school resource officer positions have been filled by currently employed deputies. The Sheriff's Office is now looking to hire 21 deputies to fill their former roles in the patrol unit.

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Officials with the Orange County Sheriff's Office said they're still searching for 21 full-time school resource officers for the current school year but said they're committed to having a deputy at every school by next school year.

A Florida law passed after 17 students and teachers were gunned down at a Parkland high school on Valentine's Day last year requires an armed guard at every school.

Officials said every Orange County Public School has an assigned school resource officer, yet some deputies are assigned to two elementary schools. Right now, every high school has two assigned officers, every middle school has one but some elementary schools share a school resource officer.

Sheriff’s deputies said for safety reasons they won't release which schools are without a full-time deputy.

Funding is not the issue, according to the Sheriff's Office, it’s mostly finding qualified candidates and training them to do the job. By the 2019-2020 school year Sheriff's Office officials say every school will have an officer.

This comes as a state advisory board is suggesting possible penalties statewide for school districts that don't comply with new security mandates established after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. The committee suggested possibly taking away funding for school systems who don’t comply to statewide school mandates of having an armed guard at every school.

Patricia Garcia said every day her grandkids' safety at school is what’s important, especially after last year's deadly shooting where 17 where killed at the Parkland high school.

"When we send our kids to school, we shouldn’t have to be worried," said Garcia. "The more the kids are secure, the more the parents feel more comfortable to send their kids to school."

Sylvia King has a 6-year-old son. 

"I’m a mother and I don’t want anything to happen to him at all, every kid's safety is very important," said King.

Orange County School District officials said they’re reviewing a study recently released by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission and will work to see what can be improved to make sure students and staff are safe.

News 6 reached out to the rest of Central Florida's school districts to see where they stand with guardians and school resources officers.

In Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Marion, Seminole and Volusia counties every school has an armed guard or a school resource officer.

All Osceola County schools are staffed with a law enforcement officer, however officials said in January that they had two school resource officer positions that needed to be filled, which was done by February. Osceola County will need two additional officers next year for new schools.

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