Thomas: Armed Security Coming To All Schools, Fulltime SRO’s Already Return To Northview, Ernest Ward

March 17, 2018

Armed security is coming to all traditional Escambia County schools, as full-time school resource officers have returned to Ernest Ward Middle and Northview High schools.

Beginning Monday, a new plan will take effect in Escambia County Schools that will provide armed security at all elementary schools in addition to school resource officers currently assigned to middle and high schools.

After cutbacks in the SRO program, Northview High School and Ernest Ward Middle School were sharing a single SRO, but Escambia County School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas said a full time SRO was assigned to each campus this week. “Northview and Ernest Ward were problematic due to distance so I that moved was already made this week,” he said.

“The district will work with local law enforcement agencies; the Escambia County Sheriff and the City of the Pensacola Police Department, as well as contract security vendors to achieve the objective of providing armed security in elementary schools, while maintaining the School Resource Officers we already have assigned to our middle schools and high schools,” explained Superintendent Thomas. “The sole purpose of these officers will be to provide security on our campuses.”

When law enforcement officers are not available, security personnel from Securitas will bridge the gap.

But some schools, which Thomas declined to name for security reasons, may not yet have an armed officer on Monday morning.

He  said the objective is to provide armed security to schools, while cautioning that achieving this goal will take time to build the capacity and availability of security personnel.  “It will take time to identify all of the officers, and also ensure contracted security personnel have the proper credentials.  “Campus assignments will increase as we work toward adding coverage for all of our elementary schools,”

The plan is expected to cost an extra $303,000 for the remainder of the school year, according to school board vice chair Patty Hightower.  The district will spend $171,000 on sheriff’s deputies and police officers, and $132,000 for armed security from Securitas. She said the money is already in the district’s budget.

Under legislation that will be in effect by next school year, school districts must hire security officers or arm teachers. The Escambia County School District has chosen not to arm teachers.

“That is too much to impose on our teachers, too much to ask,” Thomas said. “It would take each teacher a minimum of 148 hours of training to have a weapon at school.”

Earlier this week, the Escambia County Commission reached an budget concession agreement with Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan. That agreement calls for 50 percent of Law Enforcement Trust Fund monies to go toward SRO’s where feasible. But since that annual amount varies because it is from seizures, it can’t be properly budgeted.

“If the sheriff is able to return the SRO’s he cut at the beginning on this school year, that’s a good thing. But I do not like funding with a fund source that is variable. I prefer to have a budget amount that is sustainable,” Thomas said, adding that the school district has a good working relationship with the ECSO and Pensacola Police.

“We’re committed to supporting the Escambia County School District” said Sheriff David Morgan.

The Escambia County School Board is expected to act upon the superintendent’s recommendation next week.


17 Responses to “Thomas: Armed Security Coming To All Schools, Fulltime SRO’s Already Return To Northview, Ernest Ward”

  1. northofI10 on March 20th, 2018 9:17 am

    Of course most appreciate a law enforcement presence in schools and they are needed all the time. Applaud those that understand and remind all that it was this current sheriff that threw a temper tantrum and pulled them out rather than doing what was needed.

  2. A on March 19th, 2018 5:21 pm

    Every employee from the security companies needs to be SUUuuuuuuuuuuuuuuper Vetted. Just must.

  3. Anne on March 19th, 2018 11:58 am

    @ High School SRO’s

    First, Thank You and God Bless you.

    You are the Only Law Enforcement Officers who are immediately accessible on our school campuses no matter the grade levels.
    You are the Only ones on campus with the legal power of arrest and detention.
    You not only maintain and manage the unruly kids and often out-of-control parents, you offer guidance, direction and help to kids who may be on the verge of doing something that will result in bad things.
    I know personally that you walk and talk with kids who tell you things their hearts and lives cannot share with others.
    SRO’s just wanting to say Thank You for being there for our kids, teachers and parents.
    For the older group that reads here, school is not as it was 20-30 years ago. Society is not what it was then either nor are the laws and rules.

    High Schools, Middle Schools, Elementary Schools are like small cities nowadays and nobody knows that better than the Principal, Admin, Teachers and the School Resource Officers. Y’all All are Amazing.

  4. High School SROs on March 19th, 2018 10:02 am

    Ya’ll comment like School Resource Officer’s get paid to sit in an office and wait for a school shooting. There is vandalism, thefts, fights, battery charges, drugs on campus, sexual harassment, sexual assaults, trespassers, students get Baker Acted, etc.

    SROs are also readily available to take student reports of physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, etc.

    The demanding role of a SRO is physically and emotionally exhausting. They do not get paid to just sit in an office all day. As a high school teacher, I truly appreciate their dedication towards our youth. It has been a very difficult year with only one SRO on campus.

  5. jerry on March 19th, 2018 2:13 am

    I dont trust armed teachers, but if they have specific officers for security that have been well /highly trained for those situations then i think its a good move

  6. David Huie Green on March 18th, 2018 11:56 pm

    “There is no price too great to pay to keep a kid, teachers or anyone alive. You sound like there is a $ amount attached to human life.”

    Sure there’s a number. A bunch of numbers.

    Assume $100/hour, 40 hours/week, 52 weeks/year, 40 years working/lifetime. (I know $100/hour is high but you are free to pick a higher or lower one.) $8.32 million.

    If you spend more than that to save a life, you spent more than a life to save a life. People would die while earning enough to save the other life. You would be backing up.

    And consider the 480,000 deaths per year in the USA alone. Just round up to half a million. Surely you could save all those lives if you spent $4.16 trillion dollars per year to cure all the smoking related deaths. Of course, the federal budget last year was only $3.8 trillion so you would have to more than triple taxes to cover it.

    I doubt you are willing to do that.

    You can greatly cut your chance of being killed while driving by lowering possible speed to 30 miles per hour. That would also roughly double the part of your life spend driving or riding.

    I doubt you are willing to do that.

    David for honesty

  7. john on March 18th, 2018 10:08 am

    God is the real answer. We should fall on our faces to Jesus and repent…cry out to God!!! And then teach our children, and then Lord willing they will walk with God, and prayerfully that would be a generational blessing.

    As far as school security goes, it could come to a point where there is too much and it becomes an unbearable burden. Not just financially but mentally. An example would be a student’s book bag is checked three times before they even make it in the classroom. That kind of thing and so on and so forth.

  8. my thoughts on March 18th, 2018 9:32 am

    It is obvious that some people who don’t work in schools have absolutely NO CLUE what goes on on a daily basis. There are students with mental illness, students with depression, and violent students. Yes, even in elementary schools. We know that many of these students who exhibit extreme behaviors have either jail/prison, or an early grave in their futures. I, for one, will be grateful for the “good guys” with the guns that will be placed in our schools. The elementary schools need them just as much as the middle and the high schools. Yes, go ahead and put some on “problem” school buses as well. We need all the help we can get.

  9. Jim on March 18th, 2018 9:31 am

    We should train and arm bus drivers, and other support personnel, as well.

  10. Grand Locust on March 17th, 2018 8:16 pm

    In Santa Rosa LEO on Sundays and often Wed. has squads outside churches and are paid by the church. When Students are going to the school in the morning Santa Rosa sheriff has squads outside schools. It should be a high priority for the sheriff to have squads at schools in the morning and evening when students are coming and going, and the school district could pay off duty officers directly for additional income. A secure school during the day, with LEO present on student arrival and departure gives officers additional income, cuts the school expenses, and gives us safe students. It makes NO sense to pay an armed officer to sit in a school all day. Yes, there can be rotating armed LEO moving from school to school, and I would strongly recommend that the rotation of these officers involve school buses because in my opinion this is the greatest risk to students in transportation of students where any crazy with a gun can by pass secure schools. Have 25% of your bus drivers with conceal and carry permits on buses, and rotating Leo. Yea, taxpayer money is important because the needs are so important and the priorities seem to be backwards and costly.

  11. No Excuses on March 17th, 2018 6:58 pm

    The SRO’s and armed security are a move in the right directions, but I think the decision to not allow teachers who wish to participate in the “school marshal’s” program to do so is foolish. It’s not something any teacher would be forced to do, and the ones that did would have to be screened and trained, but overall I think it would improve school security, not detract from it.

  12. Patricia McNamara on March 17th, 2018 6:57 pm

    Just curious what the district has planned for school busses? Kids are able to bring just about anything in their backpacks and the drivers would never know. Look how close it came to be with the student out of Ransom Middle school. I am so glad that someone had sense enough to say something. I am also very thankful that nothing happened that morning on the bus. I do not think that the general population really understands what bus drivers do and what they have to deal with on a daily basis. There is a lot more to it that sitting behind the wheel and driving. Just saying. For all of you out there that think it is ok to run the stop arm of a bus, stop and think for a moment of the lives getting on or off that bus.

  13. Carolyn Bramblett on March 17th, 2018 2:32 pm

    It is stupid to not allow teachers who have ‘conceal carry’ permits to do just that. They’ve already been trained, they are always near their kids, and every day they see their doors, walls, windows and know what would work best.

  14. David on March 17th, 2018 1:41 pm

    @ Grand Termite..and school lets out and students are all over..what is your locked doors and electronic sys doing now. Its very apparent your not in high risk security or “its envelope”
    There is no price to great to pay to keep a kid, teachers or anyone alive. You sound like there is a $ amount attached to human life.
    keep doing what you are doing..which is nothing but touting expertise of wheich you do not have.

  15. Tabby on March 17th, 2018 12:19 pm

    @Grand Locust
    It’s so refreshing to see that some folks still have a brain and not just saying, ” WEAR says, Fox News says, Google says, etc”.

  16. Grand Locust on March 17th, 2018 9:24 am

    A million here, and a million there and pretty soon you are talking about real money. The armed Leo failed in Columbine and it failed in Florida, and multiple times in between, yet in most schools any person with the intent to cause harm can walk in any door of a school and get inside before anybody could confront them. It is too late when a person with a gun pierces your perimeter. Could you imagine taking your front door off its hinges and folks just walk into your house and commit crimes. Would the first thing you do is hire an armed leo to sit in your living room all day doing nothing all day and getting paid 50k with benefits, or do you think you would secure your doors where nobody could get in your home? For what the Escambia schools are paying for the balance of this year to have someone sitting in their living room, bullet proof glass, wireless electronic locks, security video, and a security station 100 feet from the front door with a metal detector could be installed in Escambia and unauthorized folks would NEVER get into the secure envelope of the schools. Continuing to do the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

  17. Master Mechanic on March 17th, 2018 6:45 am

    Do it ……. don’t publish it,you’ve lost your element of surprise.