BY MIKE RYAN
This morning, along with hundreds of students and parents, I ran a 2-mile run and then a 1-mile run at Sawgrass Elementary. Named the “Panther Prowl”, the run was the bright idea of our School Resource Officer, Officer Ben as the students know him.
The run started in the car loop, a place where parents have traditionally shed many tears over the years – tears of seeing their precious children leaving their protective grasp and growing up.
This morning, there were a different set of tears shed at Sandy Hook Elementary, the scene of the latest school shooting and national tragedy.
Information is sketchy and the full scope of this tragedy is not yet known. However, every parent today is seamlessly bound with Sandy Hook’s parents – our hearts ache and tears flow.
Previously, I have written about the importance of saving our school resource officers.
In Broward County, many of our Elementary Schools have no or part time school resource officers.
- Full-time SRO’s in all schools, including elementary: Coconut Creek, Cooper City, Margate, Miramar (also has two in each High School), Parkland, Pembroke Pines, Sunrise.
- Part-time SROs in elementary schools: Coral Springs, Dania Beach, Deerfield Beach, Plantation, Pompano Beach (one covering three schools), Tamarac, Weston (one covering three schools), Wilton Manor (SRO has road patrol duties).
- No SROs in elementary schools: Davie, Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale (none in Elementary or Middle School), Hollywood, Lauderdale Lakes, Lauderhill, North Lauderdale, Oakland Park.
Since 2006, countywide there are 10 less schools, but 33 less SROs. The reduction has been almost exclusively in elementary schools!
It is still too early to tell if there was a School Resource Officer at Sandy Hook Elementary or what difference, if any, having one there would have made. What difference would it have made if a police car was parked out front? Maybe none. I am sure Sandy Hook’s parents thought their community was safe.
Soon, the discussion will move to a national political stage on the usual push and pull topics.
Today, however, I feel safer knowing we have full-time SROs in all schools in our City, including ALL eight of our elementary schools. I wish that was true in all elementary schools in Broward County.
For now, we hang our heads in collective grief.
(Mike Ryan is the mayor of Sunrise. As former Chair of the Broward County Council of PTAs’ SRO Committee, former two-term president of an elementary school PTA, and father of 2 children in public schools, Ryan has been an advocate for the SRO program. This year, he is Chair of the Public Safety Committee of the Broward League of Cities and co-Chair of the Broward League of Cities Joint School Resource Officer Taskforce.)