School officials not alerted to nearby crimes

Posted at 7:14 AM, Nov 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-19 07:14:30-05
FORT MYERS, Fla. - The principal of the Fort Myers Christian School is voicing concerns about how they're notified when crime strikes the area after three recent robberies near the school on Colonial Boulevard near Summerlin Road.
In September, robbers targeted both the Chase and C1 Banks. On Friday, a woman was robbed outside Florida Heart Associates.
FMCS' principal Mel Mitchell says police never formally alerted his school or Bishop Verot High School about the crime unfolding just feet away and  want to know why.
School officials at Bishop Verot High School declined to go on camera but told FOX 4 they don't receive notification of similar incidents in the area when they happen.
"It's very scary that it happened right around the same time we started school that day," Mitchell says.
He tells FOX 4 the school doesn't get any formal notification of crime in the area but finds out through word of mouth - taking action as he gets the details.
When asked how he knows when to put the school on lock down he says: "You don't know," Mitchell says. "You don't know you just pray when that moment comes you get the information and then you get the kids ready."
FOX 4 reached out to Fort Myers Police Department to find out how private schools are notified of bank robberies, personal robberies, and any other criminal cases.
According to FMPD, supervisors on the scene of an incident determine if the schools nearby will be affected by the crime under investigation. If the likelihood is high that the school will be affected, the school gets notified.
Principal Mitchell says every incident is important for the safety of students.
"This incident that happened last week are very rare, these situations come up but then again how do we know, they're very rare?" Mitchell said. "We don't get notified."
FOX 4 spoke with spokesperson Amity Chandler with the Lee County School District to find out how public schools are notified. Chandler tells FOX 4 that public schools unlike many private schools have deputies known as resource officers on campus who are the first to know of any incidents and determine what action to take.
"Anything that might be out in the community that wants to come in is going to have to stand between the school resource officer and the front door first," Chandler said.
Mitchell tells FOX 4 that many private schools don't have resource officers because of budgeting. He says he hopes to work with law enforcement to find an alternative to stay in the loop.
"Some type of text alert system that we can sign up with or a warning call that's a recorded message," Mitchell says. "We know these are tough situations but if they have one way to put it in a database where they can automatically send an alert signal that would be great."