Town holds School Safety community meeting

Wednesday, August 1, 2018 0 Comments

Town holds School Safety community meeting

 

Since the shooting massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School, which took the lives of 17 students and teachers in February, Miami Lakes’ elected voices and residents have been scrambling for solutions to prevent gun violence among students at area schools.

And with the start of the new school year less than two weeks away, Miami-Dade Public Schools police and Miami Lakes police departments have developed a plan in an effort to keep students and teachers safe including dealing with mental illness incidents.

At a recent School Safety Town Hall meeting at the Roberto Alonso Community Center, council members, town and schools police officers as well as Regional Superintendent Jose Bueno listened to the concerns of parents whose children attend both public and private schools in the area.

Since the Parkland tragedy, parents were reluctant to drop off their kids at school, especially at Bob Graham Education Center and Miami Lakes K-8 Center, the only two schools in the town without a resource officer. 

The town used its own resources to pay for two police officers at the schools estimated at $35,000 for 3,000 kids from April until the end of school in June.

In the wake of the Stoneman Douglas tragedy, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a bill which funds $400 million to place at least one resource officer at every school in the state and programs to address mental illness among students.

Miami-Dade Public Schools recently swore-in nine new police officers as part of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which trains and deploys new officers at the schools. 

The new officers is the first step to keep students and teachers safe but more needs to be done to prevent a similar tragedy.

“The Stoneman Douglas incident impacted us all,” said Mayor Manny Cid. “We will make sure our kids are protected no matter what.”

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Deputy Police Chief Dermot Horgan said Chief Edwin Lopez and the department have stepped up efforts to prevent unwanted visitors on school grounds.

When the new school year commences, all educational facilities will have limited access and students must wear their ID badges at all time to determine who belongs on campus.

In addition, the school police officers are trained to deal with mental illness among students and have undergone tactical training to handle an active shooter on school grounds.  

Miami Lakes Police Commander Major Javier Ruiz and Lt. Jose Gonzalez said their officers are prepared to assist resource officers in any emergency.

Horgan said his department will investigate any social media threats and Ruiz is encouraging students to report their peers if they intend to harm someone at school or off campus. 

“If you see something, say something,” Ruiz said.

Regional Superintendent Bueno said all threat reports are investigated thoroughly including the police obtaining a warrant to search students’ homes.

Students could be charged with a serious crime if the police collect enough evidence in any case.

Parents whose kids are enrolled in private schools are seeking similar protection.

“Whether it’s public school or private school, mental illness is mental illness period,” said resident Claudia Luces.

For the new school year, parents would be notified of any incident at school and police placing the schools on lockdown thorough the town’s emergency alert, which parents can register for on the town’s website, www.miamilakes-fl.gov.



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