CAPE CORAL, Fla. — Schools across Southwest Florida are offering their support to the community of Uvalde, Tex., where nearly two dozen people were fatally shot by an 18-year-old gunman Tuesday.
Newly-installed Lee County Schools superintendent Dr. Christopher Bernier said his heart was heavy that his first official communication as leader of the district was in reference to the shooting.
"There are no words to express the anger and heartbreak this has caused our school communities, and I mourn for Robb Elementary School," he said in part. "As a community, we pray for the families whose children were taken too soon. This heinous act of violence has no place in our society.
"I will continue the work that has been done to safeguard our schools," he continued. "I will use the power of the Superintendent’s Office to enhance our resources, prevention strategies, and response (sic) to violence."
Counselors will be made available to students and staff who wish to utilize those services in processing the tragedy.
Throughout the school system, every campus has at least one sworn law enforcement officer, according to district spokesperson Rob Spicker. Larger high schools have two. The Lee County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday that in addition to those assigned deputies, road deputies will be providing extra patrols.
Punta Gorda police confirmed they would be increasing patrols around and inside city schools for the remainder of the week, "to ensure the safety of our students and faculty," according to a Facebook post.
Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell confirmed he is activating extra patrols around campuses in the county for the remainder of the school year.
"School resource officers are well-equipped and trained to take necessary actions against any threats of violence," Prummell said in a statement.
Jason Brown, director of school safety at Hendry County Schools, issued this statement:
The HCSD has a HCSO deputy in each of our schools. They are present for the whole school year.
As for ramping up security, we are not doing anything special. Our administrators, teachers, staff, the HCSO, and the Clewiston Police Department are maintaining the vigilance that they have every day. Our District practice, along with the Office of Safe Schools, is to practice prevention rather than reaction. Unfortunately, the lack of mental health services in our area makes this a challenge. One that we confront head-on for the safety of our students.
Citing the "tactical nature" of school security, the Collier County Sheriff's Office declined to comment on specifics related to security detail; however, their statement says in part, "Sheriff Rambosk and our professional Youth Relations Bureau deputies have a long-standing and ever-evolving commitment to keeping our schools safe in our community.
"This commitment is supported by innovative and emerging technology and proven training and tactics as well as highly effective equipment and resources," they said.