MILTON — Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson sought to "set the record straight" regarding his department's commitment to school safety during a Jan. 28 press conference. His comments were in response to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri's Jan. 22 testimony to the House Education Committee saying Florida counties are not implementing safety measures set forth in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act fast enough.
"That very well may be may be true for 66 of 67 school boards, but speaking for Santa Rosa County I have to set the record straight," Johnson said in his opening remarks. "The day that the bill was passed, I think we are the only school boardsheriff's office in the state that came to a definite contract — verbal at first — but we came to a contract that day in order to put a good guy with a gun in every single school in Santa Rosa County."
Johnson said that before the Parkland shooting in Orlando on Feb. 14, 2018, he had five school resource officers. Today he has 31 resource officers and uses off-duty deputies to patrol the six schools that are not currently covered.
"We have gone way above what I think the normal school board and sheriff's office has done so far in the state of Florida," Johnson said. "Tim Wyrosdick's commitment to the citizens of Santa Rosa County to keep their children safe is his number one priority."
His resource officers go through active shooter training multiple times Johnson said. Radios at each school will be able to communicate directly with sheriff's radios and common terminology will be used.
"We prepare for this on a daily basis," the Sheriff said.
There are anti-bullying policies to be written, and some staff will be trained in monitoring social media. Johnson also talked about the Speak Out Program, where students can anonymously call to report bullying.
Daniel Hahn head of school safety for the county at the press conference said security cameras have to be replaced on a continual basis. This year the school board has spent $876,000 on security cameras. The system needs upgrades and constant process upgrades.
This year the school board will have a budget of $500,000 to spend on resource officers. Another $950,000 will be allocated for school hardening and access control. Each school is supposed to be upgraded by May of this year.
Johnson is in the process of getting access to all of the county's school security cameras. When this is completed, all dispatchers will work together for active shooter scenarios and security.