New tactics, tools and training for Central Florida SROs, deputies

Sheriffs also reinforcing previous training from past years

Many Central Florida schools and law enforcement agents are implementing new tools and procedures to increase safety for students at the start of the 2022-2023 school year.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – From Marion County to Maitland, school resource officers and deputies across Central Florida are gearing up for back-to-school.

In Orange County, a new emergency alert system called SaferWatch will let school employees lock down a school at the touch of a button, communicating in real time with law enforcement.

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In Osceola County, Sheriff Marcos Lopez told News 6 he is planning on putting a gun locker in every single school — one that will house a shotgun or an AR-15.

“I do not want to beat on Uvalde too much, but we need to learn from other people’s mistakes,” Lopez told News 6′s Erik Von Ancken.

Sheriff Lopez is also requiring an additional 36 hours of training for his school resource deputies (SRDs) this year.

In Brevard County, Sheriff Wayne Ivey is allowing his SRDs to carry rifles on campus for the first time.

State law requires a minimum of one school resource officer or deputy per school, but Sheriff Dennis Lemma in Seminole County is putting two-to-four deputies at the larger high school campuses.

“If there is an active threat on the campus, the men and women that are doing this job are going in and neutralizing that threat,” Lemma told reporters during a back-to-school press conference.

In Flagler and Lake Counties, promotional videos are pushing an anti-bullying message, each individually promising to prosecute all school threats even if they were meant as jokes.

In order to fast track information during an emergency, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood placed at least one dispatch radio on each campus allowing direct communication with patrolling deputies. Chitwood also ordered all deputies, not just SRDs, to undergo active shooter training this summer by completing the live action simulation on campuses in each deputy’s assigned district.

In Marion County, K9 Albi, the county’s newest K9, will not only act as an unofficial therapy dog, she will patrol school campuses in search of guns.

“To the would-be criminals that are viewing right now, know Albi is coming,” Sheriff Billy Woods told reporters on Tuesday, a day before school started. “If you carry a gun on campus, she will find you, and we will arrest you.”


About the Author:

Award-winning investigative reporter Merris Badcock joined the News 6 team in October 2020. Merris is the recipient of a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award, a Suncoast Regional Emmy Award, four Suncoast Emmy Regional nominations, and two first-place Florida Association of Broadcast Journalists’ Awards.