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School District of Palm Beach County has new police chief

Sarah Mooney served as West Palm Beach police chief from February 2017 until June 2019
Former West Palm Beach Police Chief Sarah Mooney speaks to WPTV in Feb. 2017.jpg
Posted at 10:49 AM, Apr 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-21 08:00:51-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The School District of Palm Beach County has a new police chief.

School board members voted unanimously Wednesday evening to hire former West Palm Beach Police Chief Sarah Mooney to lead the school district's police department.

Former West Palm Beach Police Chief Sarah Mooney patrols city streets in Feb. 2017.jpg
Former West Palm Beach Police Chief Sarah Mooney patrols city streets in Feb. 2017.

Mooney was the chief of the West Palm Beach Police Department from February 2017 until June 2019, when she was reassigned to a new position as chief of police for emergency management.

District documents show that Mooney will start working for the school district on May 4, pending the completion of a background check and physical.

Mooney will be the district's fourth police chief in about a year.

Former West Palm Beach Police Chief Sarah Mooney speaks to WPTV in Aug. 2019.jpg
Former West Palm Beach Police Chief Sarah Mooney speaks to WPTV in Aug. 2019.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Education

According to Mooney's resume, she started with the West Palm Beach Police Department in May 1995 as a patrol officer and worked her way up the ranks to sergeant, lieutenant, captain and eventually police chief.

Patrick McCutcheon is currently serving as the chief of the school district's police department on an interim basis following the resignation of former chief Dan Alexander in January.

One of Mooney's biggest tasks will be increasing manpower in the police department, which currently has dozens of vacancies due to officers retiring, resigning, or moving to other agencies for higher pay.

A Palm Beach County school police officer walks the halls of a school during the 2021-22 academic year.jpg
A Palm Beach County school police officer walks the halls of a school during the 2021-22 academic year.

The School District of Palm Beach County currently has contracts with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, as well as police agencies in West Palm Beach, Jupiter, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Boca Raton and Palm Beach Gardens to provide law enforcement resources to school campuses.

Superintendent Mike Burke said at a school board meeting in March those seven agencies are providing a total of 32 law enforcement officers to the school district.

"She's got a vision for what we need to do with our school police department to move us forward, get our recruitment underway for more officers, and I think she'll do a great job," Burke said.