PCSO forms new strategic partnership to enhance campus security with the Polk County School Board, Southeastern University, and Polk State College
In order to meet the security and safety needs of thousands of students, faculty, and visitors of Polk County-based educational institutions, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office has created a new Safe Schools Initiative in partnership with the Polk County School Board, Polk State College, and Southeastern University.
“We have created a separate organizational structure to focus solely on best practices for school safety in Polk County. Previously, school safety programs were under the same leadership team that worked on other specialized functions. Our new Safe Schools division brings all of our school-based programs under one roof so that they can focus entirely on school safety. This is a pioneering effort in the area of school safety—our team and our partners are creating a new kind of law enforcement / educational public safety partnership.” --Grady Judd, Sheriff
As a part of the new Safe Schools initiative, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office has entered into agreements with Southeastern University, Polk State College, and the Polk County School Board to provide varying levels of safety and security services. All three partnerships are a part of the Sheriff’s Office’s Safe Schools initiative that provides a system through which the security operations of contracted colleges, universities, and Polk’s public school system will be managed and coordinated to enhance the safety and security of students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors.
PCSO Safe School leadership and team members provide services for contracted educational organizations such as: risk assessment and safety analysis; security surveys; campus security and management of campus security personnel; emergency management planning and leadership; and security related training and orientation for students, faculty, and staff. Each educational institution remains responsible for investigating and providing discipline for non-criminal incidents and /or policy violations for students, faculty, and staff. The investigation of any incidents of a criminal nature is referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency having jurisdiction within the geographical boundaries of the educational institution.
The new Safe Schools Division within the PCSO combines two primary work teams: 1) colleges and universities and 2) primary and secondary schools (PCSB).
The college and university bureau includes Polk State College, with a lieutenant, a sergeant and about 40 security staff, and Southeastern University with a lieutenant and about 25 security staff.
“At Southeastern University, safety and security is our top priority. SEU is committed to the protection of our students, faculty, staff and all other members of our University community. Thus the significance of our partnership with the Polk County Sheriff's office is monumental, for it represents a prodigious step forward in our ability to keep our community safe. By partnering with one of the best sheriff’s offices in the nation under the leadership of Sheriff Grady Judd, Southeastern and the PCSO have innovated educational security for the Central Florida area,” said Chris Owen, vice president of student development.
“Under Sheriff Judd's new ‘Safe Schools’ division, Southeastern will have a PSCO Lieutenant on campus leading our security department, who will have access to the full resources of the PCSO. We as the leadership of Southeastern University could not be more excited for the privilege of joining with the PCSO in our endeavor to protect the SEU Community,” said Owen.
“Polk State College is proud to collaborate with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office to make our campuses as safe as possible for our students, faculty, staff, and visitors. We know the value of bringing quality institutions together to create powerful innovative solutions: Polk State’s Kenneth C. Thompson Institute of Public Safety is one of the best in the nation because of our unique collaboration with area law enforcement agencies. The combination of academic and law enforcement expertise has led to an outstanding student-centered regional training academy that is a model in the nation. Our partnership with Sheriff Judd and his team to enhance campus safety and security at Polk State College provides our college community with a safer and more productive learning environment.” Dr. Eileen Holden, President, Polk State College
The primary and secondary schools bureau includes deputies and civilian staff working in the Polk County School Board including: school crossing guards (2 full-time and 166 part-time staff); school resource deputies (2 sergeants and 19 law enforcement deputies); and a new grant funded school safety team that will include one sergeant and seven deputies—this team will work on issues related to gang and truancy prevention, mentoring and counselling, and other school safety and security issues. PCSO safe schools deputies will also coordinate with police department school resource officers.
“Students need a safe learning environment where they can strive for academic success and achievement. Our Safe Schools’ partnership with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office began about a year ago and is unique among public school systems in Florida. This partnership increases the Polk County School District’s resources with those of the Sheriff’s Office, including placing an experienced captain in the role of its Safe Schools’ director.” Kathryn LeRoy, Polk County Superintendent of Schools
“Our schools, colleges, and universities are already among the safest places to be in Polk County, but we need to remain vigilant and ahead of the curve to put systems in place to reduce opportunities for tragic events that have occurred in other schools across the nation. Our new Safe Schools initiative combines skills and expertise from our learning institution leadership and our Sheriff’s Office security professionals to enhance security in the schools and in our communities. We value our educational partners—this is another example of innovation and teamwork that will lead to a safer Polk County.” Sheriff Grady Judd
Southeastern University in Lakeland became the latest educational institution to partner with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office to enhance school safety in Polk County. SEU entered into an agreement with the PCSO on October 15, 2014 that will provide law enforcement security management for the university designed to enhance the safety and security of students, faculty, and staff. A PCSO law enforcement Lieutenant will lead the approximate 24 member campus security staff and provide integrated security and safety leadership at the university.