The Hollywood Police Department is requesting funds in the budget process to add ten part-time officers to serve as School Resource Officers (SROs), addressing the concern for the safety of students in the wake of school shootings throughout the country.
The department’s goal is to have at least one SRO in every public school in the city.
The part-time officers could be retired police officers or former military police officers and would receive health benefits.
“They would provide security and give staff, students, and parents a sense their kids will be protected,” said Derik Alexander, a major for the special operations division.
Hollywood’s 22 public schools would be covered by this program but the city’s charter schools would have to find their own security personnel.
Alexander said the officers would receive regular police training and should be able to relate to regular people. “They should be engaging, friendly and not fearsome,” he said. In addition to being capable of handling a physical incident with a knife or a firearm, an SRO should be able to handle difficult parents, work with teachers and students, and be media savvy.
All officers go through active shooter training quarterly and will continue to do so year-round. “Our philosophy is that to stop a killer you have to proactively seek the shooter. We believe we prepare our officers as best we can,” said Alexander.
In addition to the school resource officers that Hollywood is seeking, there are about 20 vacancies for police officers on the force. But it is facing competition from other departments that also have vacancies.
On June 11, the School Board of Broward County discussed the School Resource Officer (SRO) program, as part of ongoing discussions regarding safety and security enhancements, at a workshop.
During the discussion, the Board expressed its preference to retain the current SRO program model, where BCPS partners with local municipalities and the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) to assign a certified law enforcement officer as an SRO.
In addition, the Board recognized the new legislative requirement to have an SRO or a school safety officer in each school at the start of the 2018/19 school year.
To watch the Board workshop, visit https://eduvision.tv/l?eAmLLy.