Broward County May End Program Allowing Officers to Live on Campus
The Resident on Campus security program allows officers to live in mobile homes on school campuses in exchange for after-hours security.
As Broward County continues to improve campus safety and security, officials are considering whether to keep allowing police officers to live on school property.
The school district is evaluating how effective its program, Residents on Campus, is at helping reduce campus crime, reports the Sun-Sentinel. The program began in the 1980s and allows local police officers to live in mobile homes on campus for free in exchange for providing security after-hours.
An audit from 2015 found the program ineffective. In many cases, officers were living in areas with low crime rates and were rarely home to respond to alarms when needed. Five schools have ended the arrangement since viewing the results of the audit.
School board members plan to hold a workshop in September “to review the findings of the current program and any renewal options,” said Cathleen Brennan, a district spokeswoman.
Further information will be collected through interviews and a review of data to find out how many times officers have actually secured a gate, responded to an intrusion or fire alarm or met with school administrators while living on campus.
The program has been kept quiet as the school district comes up with ways to increase security following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year.
Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter was killed in the shooting, was not aware of the officers living on school campuses until a school board meeting in early June.
“At first, I was shocked in hearing … that we have people living in trailers on our campuses,” Alhaldeff said. “I think there needs to be a thorough look into the … program analyzing the positives and negatives of having law enforcement officers living on our campuses.”
Another parent, Angela Weber, wanted to know which officers were living on campus, as she found “there is something terribly wrong with this program.”
The school district responded that they cannot share that information because a law prevents the home addresses of law enforcement officers from being released.
Scot Peterson, the SRO in question for his handling of the shooting, was an officer who lived on the campus of Atlantic Technical College for many years. He was an advocate for the program saying officers would be able to scare off trespassers and potential vandals.
There has been some success in the program, said John LaCasse, former Nova High principal, a Broward County campus that has housed the same officer for more than 20 years.
“He’s another set of eyes on campus,” LaCasse said. “He’s a good guy. If things happen, he calls or emails me or my assistant principals. I think they should continue [the program] if it’s financially feasible and the district can manage it in terms of resources.”
Each tenant pays $211 a year, which covers their share of the school’s utilities.
Miami-Dade County has had a similar program since 1978.
“At this time, we’re not looking to expand the program, but rather accommodate (not to displace) the officers who had been participating,” said district spokeswoman Daisy Gonzales-Diego.
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