Southwest Florida Campuses Have Experienced at Least 20 Trespass Incidents in 2018

Southwest Florida Campuses Have Experienced at Least 20 Trespass Incidents in 2018

Schools are able to issue trespass warnings to anyone who makes a disturbance or is believed to be dangerous to the safety and health of students. If a person trespasses and returns, law enforcement may arrest them.

Floridian schools have increased security in the last year, including surveillance cameras, new video door locks and additional law enforcement on campus. Despite the boost in security measures, research and reporting by WINK News, based in Fort Myers, shows that Southwest Florida schools have experienced a number of trespassing incidents this year.

“As of right now, there is not one unlocked door on this campus, until they unlock this front door to let somebody in,” said Tony Pribble, the district safety specialist and public information officer for Desoto County Public Schools.

Unfortunately, based on trespassing incident reports obtained from law enforcement, trespassing incidents don’t often occur in the front office, where added security is usually in place.

Schools are able to issue trespass warnings to anyone who makes a disturbance or is believed to be dangerous to the safety and health of students. If a person trespasses and returns, law enforcement may arrest them, and reports indicate that schools often request arrests of students who have been previously suspended or expelled and are not allowed on campus.

A student expelled from Lorenzo Walker High School for making threats to campus showed back up at the school on Feb. 14, 2018, the same day the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting took place. The student left without incident but was later arrested after an administrator reported it to law enforcement.

“As a district, we choose to utilize our Youth Relations Bureau (YRB) deputies when it relates to school trespass incidents. It is beneficial to have documented reports of such incidents,” Collier Schools spokesperson Jennifer Kupiec said.

Schools are taking trespass-related behavior more seriously. For example, Cape Police arrested a juvenile this year who entered Oasis Elementary Charter School and pulled the fire alarm.

“Things that you used to not have to think about, now you think about more,” said Kimberly Zambito, the principal at Collier Charter Academy.

Zambito said her campus has not had any trespass incidents this year, but she’s thankful they have a member of the Collier Sheriff’s Office working as a school resource officer on their campus at all times.

In Desoto County, schools have partnered with the Arcadia Police Department to have officers patrol their campuses.

“We have them park their car right in front of the school. Ninety-nine times out of 100 that person is not even going to attempt anything if they know there is a law enforcement officer on staff here,” Pribble said.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Act requires every school in Florida to have a sworn school resource officer or guardian on campus. In Southwest Florida, every campus has at least one law enforcement officer assigned to it, with some middle and high schools receiving two officers.