SEBASTIAN — The city of Sebastian and the Indian River County School Board have reached an agreement to provide law enforcement officers at Sebastian Elementary School and Pelican Island Elementary School.
The primary function of the School Resource Officer is to serve as a law enforcement officer and ensure the safety and security of students, teachers, staff, and other individuals present on the campus. The SRO is authorized to perform law enforcement functions within the school setting.
The agreement says the school board and the city will share costs for the SROs, with the school board agreeing to provide for 50% of the salaries and benefits of the SRO.
The agreement is for one year, with the option to renew for an additional one year upon mutual agreement. The city expects its cost for the one-year agreement to be $62,000.
Under the agreement, the SROs remain city employees, not employees of the school board. The parties agree that the SRO shall remain responsive to the chain of command of the city.
The agreement cites the desire of both the school board and the city to provide law enforcement services to the schools, adding that Florida Statute section 1006.12 requires one or more officers to be assigned to each school within the district.
The city and school board agreed “that a continuation of the School Resource Officer Program is in the best interests of the student population, the school board, the city, and the citizens of Indian River County.”
The SROs are to be assigned to each school on a full-time basis of eight hours on those days and during those hours that the school is in session, including designated summer school days, subject to being temporarily assigned during holidays, vacations, or emergencies. The SRO is required to notify the principal or principal’s designee when arriving or departing campus.
The SRO is authorized to identify and prevent delinquent behavior including substance abuse through counseling and referral.
Other duties of the SRO include to foster positive concepts of law enforcement; provide information about crime prevention; provide assistance and support for crime victims including abused children; promote positive relations between students and law enforcement; participate in active shooter drills and hostage situation drills; and membership on the school’s threat assessment team to monitor behavioral indicators of individuals who may pose a threat.
The SRO must make himself/herself available for conferences with students, parents, and faculty, including a requirement of confidentiality when counseling.
The SRO is expected to become familiar with community agencies that offer assistance to children and families, such as mental health clinics and drug treatment centers. The SRO is authorized to make referrals to such agencies.
The SRO is required to assist the principal in preventing and minimizing dangerous situations, and to take law enforcement action as required, including against intruders and unwanted guests.
As the campus law enforcement officer, the SRO is required to give assistance to other law enforcement when necessary, and to act as liaison with other government agencies such as DCF and the state’s attorney.
The SRO is not expected to act as the school’s disciplinarian, with the agreement stating that disciplining students is the school’s responsibility. The SRO is not supposed to be assigned to lunchroom duties, security posts, hall monitors, truancy, or other monitoring duties, though they may assist the school in such areas when requested.
The agreement requires other school personnel to report all law infractions to the SRO.