New Smyrna Beach resource officer looks forward to positive changes at middle school

Police are now dedicating one officer to work at New Smyrna Beach Middle School

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – Volusia County students went back to school on Monday, along with the school resource officers.

Police said they are now dedicating one officer to work at New Smyrna Beach Middle School. The move comes after officers said they were called to the school over 100 times last year for incidents.

Now, officer Maggie Deal will be on the school’s campus each day.

“We’re not here to arrest these kids. My opinion and the way I see it being is this is a preventative measure instead of reactive,” she said.

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Deal said she’s looking forward to building more relationships with the students during a formative time in their lives.

“This is a huge time for them. A huge time of change. These kids are discovering who they are and going through hormonal changes,” she said.

Data shows there were over 2,600 discipline referrals given to New Smyrna Middle School students last school year with 149 of those involving assault and 66 fighting cases.

News 6 also requested data from other districts to see how they compared. In Flagler County, Buddy Taylor Middle School has around the same number of students, but had just half the number of referrals last year.

Officer Deal said she hopes to get to the students first before issues can happen now.

“It’s the bigger picture. What’s going on outside of school, what’s the root cause of it. We’re not counselors or psychiatrists, but we have a plethora of resources,” she said.

Deal said many of the students already know her.

“I would make an effort to come over here during school hours or while school was in session even when we weren’t responding to calls,” she said.

Another addition, the 6th and 8th grade students will now be included in the police department’s L.E.A.D. program which teaches the dangers of drugs and violence

“They’ll be seeing a lot more of us and this is really going to be great for not just these students but the community as a whole,” said Deal.

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Molly joined News 6 at the start of 2021, returning home to Central Florida.