The Hillsborough County School District is getting five new school resource officers. These are often the first law enforcement officers on the scene when something happens at your child's school.
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, the agency that runs the program, applied for a federal grant through the U.S. Department of Justice to fund five additional school resource officers to work in elementary schools. The Hillsborough County School Board is approving the grant at their meeting Tuesday night.
Right now, not every elementary school has their own resource officer. Many share them, said Sgt. Jesse Warren, who helps oversee the program with HCSO.
He said resource officers play a critical role in school security. They are armed and trained like any other deputy.
"Because of everything that is going on in the world today, we want all of our children to be safe," Warren said.
After years working street crime, working as an resource officer at Palm River Elementary School has been a very different job for Deputy James Moriarty. However, he said, it is one he would never trade.
"It is a lot of fun," he said. "It's interaction that they probably would not have on the street with anybody."
He helps teach them basic safety skills, including safe words they can use to tell their parents they are in trouble and may need help. But he said he is also teaching kids and their parents that deputies are approachable and safe.
"We want them to see us as we are," Moriarty said. "We're people, too, and this is a job we do and we care very much for their kids."
ABC Action News talked to Hillsborough parents who said they agree.
"If something does happen, it will be a lot easier for them to take action and then save lives of these children," Diana Mora said.
"All police officers are not bad," Marlon Lewis said. "They're not. You get your kids growing up with them, that gives them a chance to meet them."
HCSO is still working to determine where the five new resource officers will be assigned.