Sheriff, superintendent talk safety measures in St. Lucie County schools
ST LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. (CBS12) —
82 shootings. 51 deaths.
According to the Homeland Security, 2018 was the deadliest year on school campuses.
"It’s not if an incident might happen on a school campus, it’s when and I just want to ensure everyone we are committed to keeping our campuses safe. And God forbid, if there is a serious threat of violence, we know how to react to it," said St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara.
Sheriff Mascara and St. Lucie County Superintendent Wayne Gent met Friday morning to discuss the changes they've made since the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas and to talk about the incidents that happened so far this school year.
In the first 18 weeks of this school year, Sheriff Mascara said his deputies have been busy.
There were more than 150 school threats, most of them from elementary and middle school students.
"Do we find a lot of those unfounded? Absolutely. It was a playground, the kid didn’t mean anything, but we have to go through the process," said Captain Brian Hester with the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office. He said this is something the sheriff's office learned after the Parkland tragedy.
"These cases have to be followed up over and over again. That’s what they feel did not happen in Broward County," said Sheriff Mascara.
The Parkland tragedy sparked a lot of school safety changes. Every school in the district has at least one school resource deputy and every campus has a single point of entry. Plus, they do regular perimeter checks, drills and various other training. Plus, Superintendent Gent said they were able to hire five social workers and five school psychologists to help on all campuses, in addition to their current staff.
Some in the community were happy to see these changes, like Shannon Murawski.
"Our children are our most prized possessions, so it's definitely a top priority," said Murawski. She added, "it gives me a little more piece of mind, a little safer feeling."
Other parents didn't feel the same way.
"I’m honestly worried no matter what happens," said Hugo Carrasco as he pushed his 6-year-old son on a swing. He added, "It’s just scary no matter what, no matter what gets implemented. It’s just always scary."
Regardless, Sheriff Mascara and Superintendent Gent said they are focused on keeping all schools in the district safe.
There have been a few suggestions to keep schools safe, like arming school resource deputies/officers with rifles. Sheriff Mascara said, "that might be a challenge for us." However, he said if it's mandated they will do it.
We are not able to compare the numbers from the beginning of the school year to last school year due to there not being school resource deputies in elementary schools last fall.