Okaloosa County School Board Approves Officers In Schools

By: Drew Steele Email
By: Drew Steele Email

"We live in a very violent society, we deal with angry unhappy people every single day" said Okaloosa Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson.

It's that's reality that led to Okaloosa County school board members voting Wednesday to approve additional school resource deputies. They approved at least five hundred sixty five thousand dollars to place a deputy on every one of the county's forty school campuses. It's a permanent fix to the temporary deputies Sheriff Larry Ashley assigned to Okaloosa's Elementary school earlier this month.

“After the Connecticut shooting there seemed to be an urgency that we needed to do something in response to that" said Jackson.

"I'm a big proponent of government's primary responsibility on a national level is national defense and on a local level is public safety and everything else is secondary in my opinion" said Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley.

Jackson says the funding will last until the end of the year. Then the board will have to decide how to properly handle school safety in the future.
"And this gives us and buys us some time to look at other things we can do whether we choose to remain with this that will be the boards call" said Jackson.
Ashley took deputies off other duties to provide the temporary school coverage, which created a small void. But he says he's committed to school safety, so he's pleased with the school board's decision.
"I've got two hundred forty sworn and if they defunded the entire sheriff's office and we only had forty officers they'd be in schools” said Ashley.
"My job is to ensure to the best of my ability that our children are safe and our employees are safe and I'm going to do that and if that means we have to give up something else then we give it up” said Jackson.
Funding for the s-r-o's will come from the school district's contingency funds, normally used for severe weather emergencies.


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