Another unfathomable tragedy has happened in our schools, and this time it struck even closer to home in Florida. Acts such as the one at Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County can strike a legitimate fear in every family that sends a child to school. We share your fears, and take the safety and security of your children as a personal responsibility like they were, and are, our own kids.
We currently staff every elementary, middle school and high school in unincorporated Alachua County with highly trained deputy sheriffs whose primary responsibility is the safety and security of the school. They will build positive relationships with young people, yet simultaneously build school-specific action plans and train the school staff on what we can all do in the event of an emergency. These deputies are fully invested in our schools, their safety, and the lives of the children in their care.
When your children are enjoying their summers with family and friends, those school resource deputies don’t take the summer off. They’re still in schools, now teaching, for the faculty and staff on the aspects of the ALICE program.
ALICE (which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) Training Instructor-led classes provide both preparation and a plan for how to proactively handle the threat of an aggressive intruder or active shooter. Whether it is an attack by an individual person or by an international group of professionals, ALICE training on option-based tactics has become the accepted response, versus the traditional “lockdown only” approach. Our ALICE Training is tailored address the unique challenges specific to law enforcement and our responses to schools, as well as healthcare facilities, higher education institutions, businesses, government offices, and houses of worship.
In addition to this cooperative approach, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office maintains the skilled individuals and specialized capabilities to respond when duty calls. Our highly accomplished SWAT team routinely finishes among the best in demanding, international competitions. Our bomb team is trained and certified by the FBI. Both are not only ready to respond to any incident in Alachua County, but also assist surrounding counties. The Marine Operations, Negotiations Response, Rifle Response, Cell Extraction Response, Crowd Management, K-9, and other Special Teams round out the host of capabilities that we can call on 24/7/365, and they train monthly on their unique skills as well as how to work together to address those violent individuals that want to harm our community.
The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office also has the benefit of great resources to sustain that training and innovation here. Santa Fe College’s Kirkpatrick Center will unveil a new $8.1 million dollar expansion in March, and we co-locate our Training Bureau staff there to work hand-in-hand with Santa Fe College daily. This expansion will not only help new deputies and detention officers receive world-class, realistic training in an environment that mirrors their daily surroundings, but provides additional training opportunities for all of those special teams as well.
As a community, we all have a stake in keeping our children, neighbors, peers, and others safe and out of harm’s way. Terrorism in any form: home grown, rogue individual, or international, will try to put fear into our daily routines. Our defense is to work together, stop this, and take a stand. We will not tolerate hate or violence within our schools or community. We can pledge to take that stand and stop violence before it can manifest itself, and do that by reporting unusual, disturbing, or suspicious behavior to any law enforcement official before it reaches a fatal tipping point. We’ve all heard, “If you see something, say something,” so remember to do so and take the time to talk to your children about it as well. They need to know that if they see something suspicious they can go to any authority and report it also. Together we can keep Alachua County safe.
As your Sheriff, I remain committed to having the best trained, best equipped and most professional law enforcement agency in the country. I am also committed to continued support for the School Resource Deputy program with highest level of training, equipment, and professional staffing. We must ensure that our children remain safe as they grow and progress through their school careers. They are the future.
THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT RELAUNCHED THE "IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING CAMPAIGN.
Officials encourage anyone who sees suspicious activity to report it to local authorities or call I-855-FLA-SAFE (1-855-352-7233). It can also be reported online through FDLE’s website at www.fdle.state.fl.us.
Sheriff Sadie Darnell
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