PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — A top local cop is headed to Palm Beach County Schools. The district's police force is expanding - keeping pace with school safety needs. The move was a unanimous one and represents the number of changes happening at local campuses.
Frank J. Kitzerow, Chief of Police for Palm Beach County Schools says policing is a 24-hour a day operation that’s demanding and more than one person needs to lead.
”It’s prevention, it’s intervention, it’s a diversion,” said Kitzerow. “It’s working to the left of the x. The x being a catastrophic event.”
Kitzerow oversees a force that's nearly doubled since 2017. Growing from 150 positions to now 288. Much of that in the after math of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and Florida’s Safety Act passed last year.
In a vote of seven to zero, the board appointed Boca Raton Police Chief Dan Alexander as second-in-command for the school district police force. It’s an operational position called the director of school police.
”Threat assessments, investigations - all that kind of stuff,” said Kitzerow. “This rounds out our team.”
How to keep students, parents and teachers prepared also remained at the forefront for parents who attended Wednesday night’s Palm Beach County Schools board meeting.
Members of the group Moms Demand Action spoke in support of the district's stance on policing. They also want to make sure parents are part of that conversation and the mental health of students after ‘code red’ drills.
“The drills, while maybe they help - they certainly do bring things up,” said Miriam Laing, a Moms Demand Action member.
“I would like to know when my child has participated in a ‘code red’ drill that day - just by a simple call out after the fact,” added Wynna Dunmyer, another Moms Demand Action member.
Palm Beach County Schools has not released a date when the new director of school police will begin.