More Than Half of Florida County’s School Police Officers Hired in 2021 Have Already Resigned
The vast majority of applicants for school police officer positions either aren’t qualified for the job or withdraw before they can be hired.
Jacksonville, Florida – Like many other U.S. employers struggling to fill job openings, Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) are finding it very difficult to hire and then retain its campus police officers.
DCPS has 22 officer vacancies – five in secondary schools and 17 in primary schools, reports News4Jax. Of its 93 recent school safety officer applicants, only 13 were hired this year, with six applications still pending. Of the 13 officers who were hired, eight have already quit.
Part of the issue is that the vast majority of applicants aren’t qualified for the jobs or withdraw from consideration. Additionally, officer pay is low – less than $40,000 per year is the starting salary. Officers who do get hired often quit for better paying positions elsewhere.
The Florida Department of Education’s Office of Safe Schools requires at least one school safety officer (SSO), school resource officer (SRO), school guardian (school safety assistant) or licensed security guard on every campus when school is in session, reports News4Jax.
To address the challenge, the DCPS Police Department wants to hire security guards as guardians because its cheaper and more efficient due to the contract security provider doing the recruitment.
DCPS, however, isn’t the only district struggling to fill police and security officer vacancies. The Patterson, New Jersey school district is also experiencing this challenge. To address its campus police officer shortage, Patterson is now planning on deploying off-duty police officers to its schools, reports PIX. The district hasn’t determined if this will be a permanent or temporary solution.
The board of education also voted to hire two security companies to provide more security services.
Patterson district officials say that many of its officers have recently retired or, like in Duval County, have left for better paying positions at other agencies.
New York City schools are also experiencing a shortage of school safety agents. There are about 1,800 fewer agents patrolling the city’s campuses this year compared to 2019.