Sheriff Mina: We’re committed to protecting your children, our schools | Commentary
By John Mina
Aug 15, 2019 | 6:00 AM
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office stands ready to protect your children.
This week, thousands of students from across Orange County went back to school. And at every school in OCSO jurisdiction, students were greeted by a sworn School Resource Deputy prepared to put their lives on the line in response to any threat.
In addition to providing bell-to-bell coverage in all 120 traditional public schools in OCSO jurisdiction, our agency has installed gun safes on those campuses. This allows school resource deputies to store their rifles or shotguns and additional ballistic gear on school grounds. In the event of an emergency, OCSO deputies, all of whom have had active-shooter training, can easily access high-powered weapons and body armor without wasting vital seconds retrieving them from a vehicle.
We also have access to thousands of cameras in Orange County Public Schools. This allows our agency’s intelligence analysts to give real-time information to our deputies on the ground during in the event of a critical incident on a campus.
For charter schools in Orange County, OCSO offers School Guardian Training — 144 hours of instruction to include firearm training, legal issues, and defensive tactics. Charter schools can select personnel to take the training and become certified as a school guardian. Those schools also have the option to hire off-duty sworn deputies for campus security.
In the aftermath of the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Sheriff’s Office will continue to treat every threat to the safety of our children seriously, taking bold and swift action when necessary.
Before school let out in May, Orange County deputies were called to Westridge Middle School after text messages were sent threatening violence against the school. OCSO deputies ran toward the danger, swarming the school with their rifles drawn. The threat was later found to be not credible and everyone was safe.
Two teenagers were arrested on felony charges of written threats to kill.
As this new school year begins, I’m asking parents to discuss the dangers of making threats with their kids. It is our job as adults to guide our children and explain that threatening a school, teacher, coach, principal or fellow student isn’t a joke — and could land them in very serious trouble.
If any student feels threatened or harassed — and that includes online bullying — please reach out to a school resource deputy. If you see something at your school or on social media, say something and report it. OCSO deputies are on campus to help.
As the father of two sons who attended Orange County Public Schools, I know the importance of ensuring a safe learning environment.
My deputies and I are committed to keeping all of your sons and daughters safe. In the event of an emergency, we are prepared to run toward danger — at risk to our own lives — to protect your children.
John Mina was elected Orange County Sheriff in 2018. He was formerly chief of the Orlando Police Department.