Tampa Bay law enforcement may consider SRO changes after shooting

St Pete says SROs are well trained and prepared
Posted at 6:44 PM, Feb 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-23 18:44:17-05

The Parkland, FL school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has local law enforcement officers considering changes to better protect your children at school.

RELATED: President Trump calls Florida deputy a "coward" for not entering Parkland school during shooting

ABC Action News spoke with the major Tampa Bay area law enforcement agencies and found out several of them are looking at two changes: Possibly adding more school resources officers on campus and arming those S.R.O.s with rifles (many of the deputy S.R.O.s already have rifles). 

St. Petersburg High School senior Chelsea Rosen couldn’t be more grateful for the resource officer at her school.

"When there’s a police officer there obviously you’re going to feel more secure. We know where we can find him, we always see him in between our classes. We rely on him," she explained. 

RELATED: Governor Scott announces "major action plan" to keep FL students safe

It’s a job more crucial now than ever. St Petersburg staffs one school resource officer in every middle and high school.

"And we expect a lot out of them. They’re out there on their own to handle situations. They do a great job," explained Assistant St. Petersburg Police Chief Joseph Dente. 

St. Pete school resource officers train at least once a year, using empty shopping malls and even video simulations to be ready for the worst. The training is made to feel as real as possible.

"We are well trained, we are well prepared and we’ll do our job," Dente added. 

This week, the Broward County Sheriff says Deputy Scot Peterson resigned from his position as S.R.O. at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after surveillance video and victim accounts showed he stayed outside the school building for several minutes during the shooting.

Dente says that won’t happen in St. Petersburg. "I have 100% faith that if anything happened our school resource officers would do their job and do the right thing and take care of the kids and eliminate the threat," he explained.

Rosen says she’s confident of that too.

"It makes me feel safer knowing that ours would most likely step in and do something," she said.

St. Pete Police S.R.O.s go through rigorous training and most have worked at their schools for decades. Yet, Dente tells us, you can never be too safe and the Parkland shooting has them brainstorming what else they can do to protect students.

"There’s going to be lessons learned after this and I think it’s important that we read the final report, debrief on it and as an organization we look at lessons learned before we move forward," he elaborated.

ABC Action News also learned there isn’t a moment that a school resource officer isn’t at your child’s middle or high school. Even when S.R.O.s go on break, another officer steps in so the schools are always protected.