CRAWFORDVILLE, Fla. (WTXL) -- In the wake of the deadly shooting in December at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office and Wakulla County School District have teamed up to expand security at county schools.
According to a joint release from WCSO and WCSD, during the new security program, K-9 unit animals wil be used to peridocally to go on sniffing missions in the schools and parking lots of secondary schools to ensure the safety of students and staff.
Superintendent Bobby Pearce and Sheriff Charlie Creel will hold an awareness assembly to explain the measures to students and staff.
Security cameras will also be used to monitor activity in schools.
"We want to be proactive and create a partnership with the sheriff's office where we can talk and have an open dialog about improving school and student safety," said Superintendent Pearce. "The school system and the WCSO are sharing in this responsibility to benefit everyone in Wakulla County."
Superintendent Pearce and School Safety Officer Jim Griner have met with Sheriff Creel, Undersheriff Trey Morrison and Major Shepard Bruner who supervises the law enforcement division regarding the best ways to keep students and faculty safe. They plan to continue the dialog.
"We will continue to develop a relationship between the sheriff's office and the school district to find the very best methods to address school safety from all angles," said Sheriff Creel. "We will enhance what we are doing now while also addressing the financial burden we face of operating with smaller budgets each year."
Superintendent Pearce and Safety Officer Griner have met with Florida Legislative officials in an effort to determine if the state plans to help school districts address the financial burden additional security measures will cost the district. State lawmakers will also be looking for federal assistance to help fund new security measures.
Sheriff Creel and Undersheriff Trey Morrison will be attending the Florida Sheriff's Association Mid-Winter Conference in late January to discuss the same issue from a law enforcement standpoint.
The two agencies plan to increase the number of periodic patrols conducted by road patrol deputies while continuing the Substance Abuse Violence Education (SAVE) Program in fifth grade and School Resource Officers in the middle schools and high school and at the elementary schools when needed.
"We are attempting to address our security concerns in the most cost effective manner while keeping the school facilities from resembling a detention facility," said Sheriff Creel. "We plan increased foot patrols at school facilities as well as heightened random patrols."
"I was very pleased by the response from parents following the active shooter incident in December," said Superintendent Pearce. "We were very proactive with our robo-call informing the public about the increased law enforcement presence in school zones and on campuses. We have had a very difficult first period (in December) and now we are working on long range planning and the best use of our tax dollars."
Many parents were concerned about student safety following the Connecticut shooting and parents thanked law enforcement and school officials for their quick response and visible presence at schools to ease the worries of parents when they dropped off children or placed them on the bus during the final week of the December portion of the school year.
"I have agreed to speak to the students at the high school to explain how important maintaining a safe school environment is for everyone," Sheriff Creel concluded. "We want everyone in the community to know that we care about them and we are here to help them."