Parents across our community, state, and nation have recently faced tough decisions and questions.
Parents across our community, state, and nation have recently faced tough decisions and questions. It is almost unfathomable to think that we are asking the question: “Should I send my child back to school?” As parents of two boys in public school, my wife and I are pondering the same question. I recognize that this and other related questions are not easy to grapple with.
However, there is one thing that parents should not have to worry about, and that is the safety and security of their children while they are at school. Without any doubt, that has always been and will always be our top priority.
As you know, school safety is complicated and requires much more than what is visible to the eye. The collaboration between Seminole County Public Schools, Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, and our municipal police department partners allows us to work hand-in-hand in the preparation and implementation of our school safety plan. Some of these elements include locked exterior/interior doors, mandatory visitor check-in procedures, video surveillance and alarms, as well as emergency operation plans that provide for drills throughout the year, so everyone knows what to do in the event of a real situation.
Additionally, we will continue to use the Rave Panic App that is coupled with the Mutualink interoperability platform that permits law enforcement, staff, and 911 operators to communicate, quickly respond, and have real-time access to other school safety technology. This has proven successful in the past, and continues to be an important part of our holistic and layered school safety plan.
The School Resource Deputies and Officers (SRDs and SROs) on our campuses are the most visible elements of school safety – and one of the most essential components in keeping our students safe. This is why we added this first layer of security to our campuses years ago. When you and your children interact with a uniformed law enforcement officer on campus, you are meeting a specially trained deputy or officer who provides safety, educational support, mentoring, and in times of crisis, an immediate law enforcement response to an emergency.
Most importantly, SRDs and SROs are placed at our schools to keep your students safe and build relationships with them. The relationships that we build with the children in the roles of friends, mentors, and confidants are equally as important as the role of protector. We know that the relationship that a deputy or officer builds with a student helps anticipate problems before they arise. Relationships provide the ability for us to know when issues are going on in school, at home, or in the community – often before anything rises to the level of a threat.
As school resumes this fall, we know that the virus will make classrooms and activities look much different than it did before. However, our commitment to protecting your children remains the same. School safety is imperative to the success of all of our children. Always remind your children that if they See Something, Say Something, Do Something. I wish everyone a safe and successful academic year.
Sheriff Dennis M. Lemma, now in his fourth year leading the agency, is the 10th sheriff in the history of Seminole County. As the Chief Law Enforcement Officer, Sheriff Lemma directs the agency’s enforcement, investigative, correctional, judicial, juvenile, and support services.
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