New officers started Monday patrolling in local elementary schools in Northwest Florida.
This is the start of the Escambia County School District’s goal to have armed security on every school campus.
Michael Garcia has been with the Pensacola Police Department for two years and now, on his day off, he’s giving high fives and fist bumps at Reinhardt Holm Elementary.
“When the opportunity came, it was no question for me to volunteer to assist the schools and provide a sense of security,” Garcia said.
City officers and Escambia County deputies are in the middle and high schools now. Superintendent Malcolm Thomas is trying to get armed security in the elementary schools too so he’s getting private contract security officers.
“The two law enforcement agencies do not have enough officers to help off-duty so I’ll have to supplement,” Thomas said. “We think as we go forward, their capacity will increase. As law enforcement’s capacity increases, I’ll decrease contract security.”
This will cost a little more than $300,000. The sheriff had to cut school resource officers so the plan is to reallocate that money that the school district never spent to pay them. The contract officers will also go through training.
“We will put them through an orientation program to make sure they know how to act when they’re on an elementary campus,” Thomas said.
The school board meets Tuesday night to approve the budget that will allow the district to pay the officers through the rest of this school year.