A History Lesson in Student Resource Officers

By: Ann Nucatola
By: Ann Nucatola

Godby High School in Leon County was the first school in all of Florida to allow an armed deputy on campus with students and was later used as a model for the state.

When the program first started it was met with resistance and trepidation.

Parents and critics asked questions such as 'why is the deputy in uniform' and 'why is he carrying a gun?'

Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell explained, "We're not the disciplinarians. The schools handle it. We are a resource, thus the name."

The sheriff says deputies are here to protect students, not punish, as they are when they're working in the communities. Now, decades later, the program is statewide with a very high level of success and growth in Leon County.

"The program has grown now. I've got 19 SROs in the high schools and middle schools," adds Sheriff Campbell.

The Leon County Superintendent of schools Bill Montford says, "It's been a tremendous investment from the Sheriff's Office as well as the school system, but has paid of many times."

Both Campbell and Montford say if it weren't for the determination of former leaders between the Sheriff's Office and the school administration, this program may never have happened.

"We bit the bullet, and the rest is history."


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