Will Sarasota school district police force be ready in time for first day of school?

School leaders and law enforcement officers from all across Sarasota County gathered Tuesday to talk about school safety. Some school leaders worry the newly formed school police department won’t be ready for the first day of school on August 13, 2018.  

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“This is too important, we have to get it right, we don’t have to do this quickly, it has to be done correctly,” said School Board Chair Bridget Ziegler.

Local agencies agreed to temporarily fill the school with officers if the new police force isn’t up and running in time.

The district has yet to hire one person for the newly formed police force, but a new state law requires all public schools to have an armed guard by the start of the school year. 

"There will be a police officer in each building by the beginning of the school year, parents don't need to worry," said Superintendent Todd Bowden.

Dr. Todd Bowden, Superintendent of Sarasota County Schools released the following statement on Tuesday afternoon:

“I  am pleased to announce that the Sarasota County School District will continue  its partnership with local law enforcement for the 2018-19 school year to not  only include School Resource Officers (SRO’s) for our middle and high schools, but serve our elementary schools on an interim basis as we look to establish  our school-based police department over time. Their continued collaboration provides us the time needed to appropriately hire and train a strong group of men and women to lead the safety and security of our schools. We recognize many of our law enforcement partners are short-staffed and it is our goal to ease their burden as quickly and effectively as possible as school-based officers are brought on board to round out the Sarasota County Schools Police  Department. We are thankful for their continued support and dedication to  keeping our students, staff and community safe, and appreciate their service.”

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