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New unarmed guards begin duty at elementary schools

Manatee County School Board
Posted at 4:30 PM, Sep 17, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-02 13:13:27-04

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. – Wednesday was the first day for newly contracted “community security officers’ patrolling Manatee County elementary schools, and the guards are unarmed for now.

Freedom Elementary students met their new community security officer for the first time and presented him with handmade cards welcoming him to the Freedom family.

But Manatee County principals had the privilege of meeting officers prior to them stepping on campus. "There was a meeting in the school board room downtown. They introduced the officers, they introduced the principals that were there and we got to meet our officer and got a little time to spend some one on one," says Freedom Principal Jim Mennes.

He also received a detailed background on his CSO from Sarasota Security Patrol, the company providing these trained officers. "Ours has a military background, served overseas...has been specifically trained to work this job, has first aid experience. Honestly he's already impressing me on what he can do for us."

Ron Taz, vice-president of operations for Sarasota Security Patrol, Inc., was on the campus of Freedom Elementary Wednesday. "We're excited to partner with the Manatee County School Board, and we look forward to building relationships with the community in which we serve."

And building relationships with the new CSO's is something Ballard Elementary School Principal Wendy Mungillo had in mind. "If we embrace them as part of our staff and part of our school community and our family it would be a good relationship and families could accept that too."