Orange County Public Schools to create own police force

Unit to begin next school year

ORLANDO, Fla. - The Orange County school district will soon have its own police force.

School board members approved a plan Tuesday night that starts with hiring six new officers for the district, one of the largest in the state.  Of the largest 50 school districts in the country, 42 percent have their own law enforcement organization, but this will be the first in Central Florida.

A school district police force was among the recommendations issued after external reviews of safety and security practices following the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting.

"There are issues of arrest, we also want to look at diversionary programs.  We may have some smaller misdemeanors that don't necessarily need to cause an arrest or we can use things like civil citations," said Michael Eugene, chief operations officer for the school district.

Eugene said the school resource officers already working on campuses will keep their jobs.

District leaders said the police force will cost $31,000 up front, plus an extra $13,000 for each officer every year to cover insurance, benefits and training.

Leaders said creating their own police department allows the district greater access to shared law enforcement information that will make campuses safer.

The officers will have arrest powers and will be allowed to carry weapons on school property.

Orange County Public Schools said the police force will be implemented in time for next school year. 

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