Partnership between school district & sheriff’s office will replace Guardian program at 10 campuses
WJXT News4Jax | By Joe McLean | July 13, 2021
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The St. Johns County School District announced an expanded partnership with the Sheriff’s Office that will see at least one resource officer posted in all 46 of the district’s schools this fall.
Currently, 10 of the county’s public schools employ the Guardian Program, which provides “armed personnel who aid in the prevention or abatement of active assailant incidents on school premises,” according to the Florida Department of Education.
Sheriff Robert Hardwick said the effort is aimed at furthering the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office goal of providing security to the county’s schools, but it also serves an added benefit of fostering positive relationships between law enforcement officers and young students.
“It’s a good time for us to start that relationship at a young age,” Sheriff Hardwick told News4Jax in a Tuesday interview. “So, with every single school, we keep that continuity with the children actually knowing that a deputy sheriff in this uniform is a friend.”
With the dissolution of the district’s contract with the Guardian Program and the expansion of the statewide Safe Schools Act, the sheriff said these resource officers will have a very modest impact on the agency’s and school district budgets.
Only Ketterlinus Elementary School and R.B. Hunt Elementary School have resource officers provided through the district’s contract with the St. Augustine Police Department, the rest will come from the Sheriff’s office.