Florida Legislators Reject Call for Funds to Hire Campus Police

Florida Legislators Reject Call for Funds to Hire Campus Police

Florida legislators disagree with Gov. Rick Scott when it comes to security on school campuses.

Despite repeated calls from Florida Gov. Rick Scott, the Florida legislators have officially refused to steer $58 million to school districts to help them hire more campus police officers.

Scott, late in August, asked that legislators shift unused money from the state's guardian program to pay for more officers. Under the guardian program, school districts were eligible to receive money to train school staff to act as armed guardians on school campuses.

Most districts have opted, instead, to hire officers even though some districts have struggled to come up with the funds to pay for them.

Sen. Bill Galvano, the incoming Senate president, wrote a letter to Scott on Friday telling him he would not support the request. Galvano said the guardian program is still evolving and more districts may opt into it in the future.

"For the guardian program to truly be vetted and ultimately embraced, I believe the program should maintain its own funding rather than having its funds comingled with other funds available for school safety," Galvano said. "I respectfully disagree with your statement that the $58 million in available funding will go to waste if the proposed budget amendment is not adopted."

After the Parkland shooting that killed 17 people and injured over a dozen more the state's 67 county school districts were given the more expensive choice of hiring additional police officers, also know as school resource officers, or supplementing the officers they already had with the cheaper guardian program. Any money not covered by the state had to be picked up by the districts. Legislators set aside $67 million for guardians, and boosted money for school resource officers by $97 million.

Some districts, however, have said they can't afford officers and are hiring full-time guardians. A police officer can cost $100,000 a year in salary and benefits, while guardians are estimated to cost between $30,000 and $50,000. Some schools in the rural parts of the state, are supplementing officers with armed staff who get a $500 stipend, saying their communities support that arrangement.

About the Author

Sydny Shepard is the Executive Editor of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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    March / April 2021


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