South Florida Sun-Sentinel | By Scott Travis | August 2, 2022
A new superintendent could mean a new look at whether to allow the Broward Sheriff’s Office to take over school policing.
Sheriff Gregory Tony submitted a proposal to the school district in 2019, but former Superintendent Robert Runcie rejected it, partly due to costs. But Tony told the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission Tuesday he’s still interested.
The school district contracts with 13 municipalities and the Sheriff’s Office for school resource officers, while it runs its own investigative unit for allegations of employee wrongdoing. District officials have discussed in recent months whether to create their own police department, similar to Miami-Dade and Palm Beach County school districts.
Whether current Superintendent Vickie Cartwright is interested in Tony’s proposal is unclear. Cartwright, who started as interim superintendent a year ago and permanent superintendent in February, is expected to appear at the commission this afternoon.
“We feel that that would be more effective and would minimize government bureaucracy,” Tony told the commission. “The more people who have to make decisions, that slows down the process. We think it’s the right thing to do if that’s something the superintendent wants to continue to explore.”
Tony complained in the past that Runcie’s administration was slow to work with the Sheriff’s Office on issues such as allowing real-time viewing of surveillance cameras in schools and installing geocoding on cameras to help authorities precisely identify where an emergency is happening. But he said he has a good working relationship with Cartwright.
“After some frustration to get this done, we now have only a few schools that still need to modify their camera systems,” Tony said.
Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who chairs the safety commission, recently praised Cartwright for changes she’s made to school security, including improving behavioral threat assessments, sharing student criminal information with law enforcement and launching a random metal-detector program in schools.
The commission, formed in 2018 to investigate the Parkland shooting and how to improve school safety statewide, is holding an all-day meeting at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise. The meeting is happening at the same time as the trial in Fort Lauderdale to determine whether to execute the gunman who killed 17 and injured 17 others on Feb. 14, 2018.
The jury is hearing “impact statements” from the loved ones of those murdered this week, so many family members who normally attend the safety commission meetings are at the courthouse instead. Two fathers of victims, Ryan Petty and Max Schachter, serve on the commission and are both attending today’s meeting.