MELBOURNE, Fla. — Security is on the top of the minds of parents, guardians, and school administrators as tens of thousands of children across Central Florida head back to school today.
- Today is 1st day of 2019 school year across Central Florida
- Security a top priority for school districts, parents, guardians
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In Brevard County, the school district has 65 school resource officers and 28 armed guardians for its 75,000 students, enough to make sure each school in the county has protection this year.
This year, the school district is requiring monthly active-shooter drills at each school.
“We are pretty much as safe as we can be exterior wise, limited access-wise, and we're training staff,” said Melbourne Police Officer Valerie Butler.
Butler is now in her third year as a school resource officer at West Shore Junior/Senior High School. She's also working with the school district to more than double the number of security cameras.
“The second phase of the cameras will be blind spots, stair wells, interiors of certain buildings where we have issues,” Butler said.
As a school resource officer, she has other duties as well, from handling school parking and traffic to presenting students with information about bullying, sexting, drugs, and vaping.
“Now it's a lot easier for kids to vape vs. smoke in populated areas and get away with it,” she said. “For some reason, the draw to this for young teens just blows my mind.”
But Butler says her top priority is to keep kids safe, and she can't do that without their help.
“The most important thing is not a gate, not how people can get in or on campus, because anyone can jump a gate, it's what you do when you see something suspicious or out of order, and that's my big thing, that's what's going to prevent lives from being lost,” she said.