MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB) — For about the last five school years, the Jackson County School District has operated its own police department.
After Superintendent Steve Benton and Sheriff Donnie Edenfield were elected in November, they decided it was time for the Sheriff’s Office to take the reigns.
“We didn’t have a server. You have to have a server, it keeps everything confidential. With the school board, it would’ve cost a lot of money,” Benton said. “We didn’t have a dispatch. So, it’s just more economical and feasible to be with the sheriff’s department.”
Benton said it costs a little more money to have deputies lookout for the students, but they get a better service.
Edenfield hired most of the previous school district’s police officers.
Now, 16 school resource officers work at all 12 of the county’s schools.
“We probably could have gotten by with a few less, but you got to figure in the factor if someone’s out on vacation or someone’s out sick, because the law requires a deputy to be at that school if school is in session and students are there,” Sheriff Edenfield said.
The “law” is the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.
Most Jackson County schools only have one resource officer, but there are 1,800 students at the Marianna K-8 School.
Lieutenant Stewart said they need three school resource officers to provide adequate security.
“We handle things such as truancy or assist with truancy,” Lt. Stewart said. “We find kids that are maybe having trouble getting to school or for some other issue we go and check on the children to establish their welfare and basically just go around and take care of these kids.”
Stewart said all 12 schools have been very welcoming, and they’re building relationships with the students.