Sarasota Co. school board creating police force within district

Manatee County

The crisis in our classrooms is front and center for Sarasota County. This upcoming school year, state law requires that every school in Florida have an officer on campus. The Sarasota County School Board is working hard this summer to make sure that happens, including figuring out how to pay for it.

The county is creating its own police force to work in the schools here and they’re making sure they’re hiring the very best candidates.

“Education first, safety always. That is kind of the focus of everyone who works at our school district. Education is our business but safety every minute is everyone’s business,” said Scott Lempe with Sarasota County schools.

That’s the motto for the Sarasota County School Board and they’re taking the new state law seriously.

As it stands now, law enforcement officers are at every middle and high school in Sarasota County.

Next school year, officers will also be on elementary school campuses.

To save money, the Sarasota County School Board is creating a district appointed police force.

It will be a 2-year long project to get it staffed.

This coming school year, a police chief, three sergeants and 24 officers will be assigned to elementary school campuses.

The search for the right candidates has been a full-time job.

“Personally I guess the first thing I would tell you is I would rather start the year in violation of the law the put the wrong person at our school. Our hiring process is really robust in terms of finding the right people not only with the right law enforcement skills but the right kind of mindset and attitude to work with kids,” said Lempe. 

Several job offers have already been extended to qualified candidates. Next year, the district appointed police force will be fully staffed to handle all 39 schools in the district.

That’s a project that’ll cost $3.5 million.

The meeting today is from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the school district office. It is open to the public.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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