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Martin County Sheriff's Office helps preschools improve security

Posted at 5:41 PM, Jul 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-26 17:41:36-04

HOBE SOUND, Fla. — School tragedies have brought school safety to the forefront.

While school resource officers are now commonplace, there are some learning centers that don’t have them. But the Martin County Sheriff's Office is working to keep those campuses safe as well.

If you want to know what’s happening, just duck into Ms. Stephanie’s "blue" room at the Hobe Sound Early Learning Center. Here, the calendar just moves from the traditional school year right into summer camp.

"We have children from one to five and we prepare for kindergarten," said Ashley Connors, the director of the center.

Keeping this eager group safe is the top priority for Connors.

After the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Connors reached out to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office to do a walkthrough of her facility.

"To see what we have in place right now and how we can improve that. Some of those immediate fixes and what long-term goals we have in terms of revamping what we have," Connors said.

Concerns like that got the Martin County Sheriff’s Office thinking and is now debuting a new safety program in conjunction with area preschools.

"Little kids in the preschool. If something was to happen, they’re going to go right to that teacher," said Corporal Andrew Porcelli.

Porcelli has been a school resource officer for five years. Tuesday, he led a safety seminar with a handful of preschool and early learning coordinators.

"Their number one concern was being notified, and that comes back to the communication aspect of everything," Porcelli said.

Connors, who was part of the discussion, said she’s beefed up security.

"Access points coming into the building through keypads for security. We have doorbell monitors where we can see before they enter the building. We can approve that," Connors said.

Because kids need to be safe, not just during the school year, but year-round.