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St. Lucie Co. parents: School resource deputy at every school is a start, but not enough

Posted at 4:58 PM, Mar 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-06 18:31:40-05

The St. Lucie County Sheriff is not waiting for lawmakers.Sheriff Ken Mascara announced Tuesday there will be a school resource deputy at every school in the district.

Parents dropping off and picking up their kids at Floresta Elementary School in Port Saint Lucie saw a sheriff's deputy's car parked outside the school and said they're happy they're here, but they want more. 

"I was a little nervous, but when I heard the message and I heard what they were saying... relieved, very relieved," said Nadia Tague, referring to a message she received from the St. Lucie County School District notifying her and all parents that armed deputies will now be assigned at every elementary school in the district. 

"Parents would ask me, 'why do you have them at middle schools and high schools, but not at elementary schools?' and the simple question was lack of funding, but we felt the need so immediate and necessary," said Sheriff Mascara. 

Sheriff Mascara re-organized deputies from various units to make sure every school is covered; a total of 38 deputies are assigned to schools. Some parents say they are grateful for the security, but don't think it's enough. 

"Probably not, but its a start and I'll take it, I'll take anything," said Tague.

"They need more deputies in here in each school or hire a bunch of vets, one or the other," said parent Henry Dunlap. 

Mascara said the move was necessary and now he's hoping that state legislature will provide some funding to keep it going for next year. 

'At this time, in light of what happened in Parkland, this was priority... this was a priority for the superintendent," added the Sheriff. 

A bill that just passed the Florida Senateproposes to have other school personnel, such as librarians or coaches, carry a weapon if they want to and if they pass a program that would be run by their local sheriff. 

"It's controversial, arming the teachers or not. My sister is a teacher, my mom works in the school district as well and if teachers want to be armed, I don't see a problem with it," said parent Jason Powers. "You can't dedicate all of your officers to every single school."

Powers applauds the sheriff for adding a deputy to his son's school.

"Schools are soft targets and people don't think there's going to be any consequences so if we have somebody armed on the premises, I think it might deter some of that," added Powers. 

The sheriff said only school resource deputies trained with rifles will have access to them, but will not openly carry them on campus. He said his deputies will be able to take on any threat on any campus. 

"They will engage anyone that poses a threat in any of these campuses or to any of these students," added the sheriff.