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Law enforcement agencies ramp up school patrols in wake of Texas school massacre

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Posted at 6:58 PM, May 25, 2022

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — As families dropped off their children at school on Wednesday, they may have seen extra police officers there. Several agencies increased patrols in the wake of the Texas school massacre.

School leaders also reviewed security measures to make sure there were no gaps.

The Lee County and Charlotte County Sheriff's Offices were some of the agencies that had more officers at local schools.

Extra Charlotte County deputies will be at the schools for the rest of the school year, the sheriff said.

Collier County would not say if it would provide extra patrols and said "Information relating to school security is tactical in nature and as such is exempt from release." However, deputies do review policies and procedures after every major incident across the nation.

When Fox 4 asked Hendry Public Schools if it's ramping up security, the spokesperson said,

...we are not doing anything special. Our administrators, teachers, staff, the HCSO, and the Clewiston Police Department are maintaining the vigilance that they have everyday. 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.

We looked into what security measures are required at Florida schools beyond the extra patrols.

In 2018, Florida lawmakers passed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. One of the biggest pieces of the law: every school is required to have at least one school resource officer.

We checked in with Lee, Charlotte, and Collier counties.

Every single public school in those districts has at least one school resource officer assigned to its school. Some schools, like high schools, have two.

FGCU forensics studies professor David Thomas, who is also former law enforcement, says they're there to stop any threat.

"The other thing that they're hoping for is deterrence, meaning that if we have an armed person on the campus, that that will deter someone form being involved in a shooting," Thomas explained.

Thomas says there are other measures that help such as video doorbells and locked gates.

Though it's not known if Collier County provided extra patrols, the spokesperson says the district did take other measures on Wednesday.

Today our district leaders met with all school-based leaders – principals and assistant principals – to discuss many topics during this final stretch of the school year. During that conversation we reviewed layers of security in place within Collier County Public Schools.

Some of those layers of security the spokesperson listed include locking doors and covering windows during a lockdown, operating at single points of entry, and having a threat assessment team.

"It's down to a science. Within a minute or two minutes, everything is shut down," Thomas said.

But is any of this enough? Thomas says the answer ultimately resides in every child's home and the adults in their lives.

"We can only have so many armed guards, we can only have so many people's guns," he said. "There's only so much that we can do and the rest, I guess, we just have to pray and practice in order to respond."