Tears For Sandy Hook Elementary

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.) 



60 Responses to “Tears For Sandy Hook Elementary”

  1. Brian Maher says:

    Hi Mike, Excellent article as usual. I don’t think there was an SRO in Sandy Hook, and like You I am not sure it would have made a difference but I know that my Daughter teaches 4th Grade in Sunrise and She is thankful that She has a SRO in her school . My Wife teaches 5th Grade in Davie and she wishes she had an SRO in her school like she use to have before budget cuts. As You know I am an SRO and I believe that I make a difference every day. Having Police in our schools makes our Children and Parents feel safer, especially after tragedies such as Sandy Hook. I believe our Children are Priceless and I thank You for leading the charge to keep our SRO’s in our schools protecting and mentoring our children.

  2. Parent says:

    Bravo!! Mayor Ryan, you didn’t spew the usual anti-gun rhetoric and instead offered a logical and functional solution to the problem. Clearly had there been a school resource officer present this tragedy would not of happened.
    The “Gun Free School” zone, federal laws prohibiting the ownership of firearms by persons under 21 or the laws prohibiting murder didn’t stop the killer….but one school resource officer would have.

  3. toyman says:

    First off my thoughts and prayers are with thefthe families of Sandy Hook Elementary. Mayor Ryan I commend you on writing this article. I agree with you that their should be SRO’S in all Broward County Schools. I have two daughters one in elementary and one inbmiddle school and their is no full time SRO’S in their schools. So good job for reinstating the SRO program in all of your schools in your city. I believe we need to have officers in all levels of school. These are our children. We drop them off in the mornings and expect to see them when we pick them up after school. Then todays tradgedy happens. If there is an officers car in the parking lot of school or better yet right out front of the school maybe that will make someone think twice before they do something horrible and or tragic. Who knows if sro present will deter anything from happening but I know i as a parent would feel safer knowing there is a full time officer in all Broward County Schools protecting all of our children.

  4. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    I say the problem is not everyone is packing heat.

    Glocks for tots!

    Time for my kid’s Justin Bieber back pack to come in Kevlar.

    I’d hope this is the time for an adult talk about gun ownership in America.

    * 5% of the world’s population, but 50% of the guns
    * There are more guns than dogs and cats combined

    Gun violence has become our domestic terrorism. We lose nearly 11,000 to gun homicide each year, and three times that number are injured. But that’s not enough to stir most Americans into action.

    Too many Americans are influenced by the excuses and slick clichés of the gun lobby. You’ve heard them all — “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”; “One more gun law won’t make a difference.”

    But excuses and clichés don’t solve problems.

    Meanwhile, the gun lobby just keeps offering up the same, tired old solutions: more guns, no new gun laws, fewer gun restrictions, and more punishment.

    We’ve been there and done that, yet still have a shameful gun violence problem.

  5. frank says:

    I find it ironic that people who complain about us needing gun prohibition laws tend to be the same types of people who complain about drug prohibition not working, and vice versa.

  6. Ever Vigilant Parent says:

    Every parent feels the grief of today’s events and I am thankful that those of us who are removed from the tragedy can still hold our children. I am also positive that each and every one of us thought, even if it were for a split second, is my child safe in school? Although we try, we know that nothing is ever 100% safe or predictable, and even when our children return to school Monday we will always have doubt. However, unlike Mayor Ryan, I will say it. I do 100% believe that a police officer in front of a school would have made a difference as well as the SRO inside the school. I believe this for the following excerpt taken from the Mini-Manual of the Urban Guerrilla, a textbook used by many terrorist organizations, reads: “Why attack the mighty lion when there are so many sheep to be had?” I am not calling this a terrorist attack, but it is an attack of terror and I take solace in knowing that my child will return to school Monday which is protected by the lion. I only wish every parent could experience the same level of comfort amongst the doubts.

  7. christine says:

    May the child that was born on that Holy Night 2000 years ago throw His arms of love around each one of those innocents and welcome them to a place of no more fear or tears.

  8. Julia Spann says:

    I applaud you Mayor Mike for the battle you have waged not only for SROs in Sunrise, but for SROs all over Broward County. I am glad that you raised this need at THIS time, as now, in the wake of this horrific tragedy, more will see the intense relevance of this issue and, hopefully, be more likely to take action.

    I agree with the comment that SROs would have deterred an assailant or at least prevented the attack from having as much of an impact. It’s interesting that my son, now in middle school (and former Sawgrass Elementary student) just talked about how in high school there will be police officers on campus. My daughter (still in elementary school) asked, “Why?” Now, I am afraid she’ll know the answer… even in the innocence of an elementary school environment.

    Again, THANK YOU MAYOR MIKE for your fight to protect our children near and far. I join you in this fight for SROs. Aside from raising awareness, that is the most immediate and DOABLE solution. It’s been said, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Perhaps some of the naysayers will now have the will and find a way.

  9. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    Buddy and Mike,

    Yesterday’s event in Connecticut was horrible, tragic, unimaginably senseless and it angers and saddens us all. Clearly, our schools and the children they serve are better protected with police officers present to help ensure safety. However, I will say this.

    Since Nick Navarro first breathed life into the SRO program in Broward we’ve had cities paying the huge cost of protecting our schools using armed police officers. It is a very expensive proposition that, for years, our cities were happy to financially support. Cities never complained about doing it, and the school board never thanked them, even though the statutory responsibility for securing schools clearly falls to the Broward County School Board.

    In fact, some school districts even employ their own police forces, like Miami Dade and West Palm Beach do. The law in Florida allows school districts to employ armed police officers, with arrest powers. The Florida statute is very clear on this point. For a multitude of reasons, it makes more sense for traditional law enforcement agencies to provide SRO duties. But payment should come from the school district and there are very practical and important reasons why.

    During this recession it became clear that cities simply could no longer subsidize other taxing districts like the school board, no matter how important the reason, the inevitable math of finance would not permit it.

    Now, it’s hard to think of an expenditure more important than SRO’s however the fact remains that cities simply no longer have the money to pay for things that others, under the law, are required to pay for.

    Cities were therefore forced to confront the school district and tell them they really needed to be pay their own bills.

    The district was reluctant but ultimately came terms with the situation. Since then, they’re doing a bit more than paying 10% of the large bills that come with any good SRO program. They need to pay for all of it.

    Cities need to be using 100% of their police budgets to keep communities, homes and businesses safe — which school funds CANNOT pay for. Supplementing that budget should be school district funds to pay for cops in schools.

    Blaming our financially struggling cities for no longer being able to protect our schools for free, as they were happy to do for decades when that expenditure was possible, is not the answer that produces school or community safety.

    Every single city, every rational resident agrees that having a certified, armed SRO police officer during all hours that children are in class makes sense for every school. The proper step to ensure that occurs is therefore in place, the next step is providing the funds to make that happen and here we must turn to our school district and secure that accountability.

    May the events that occurred yesterday never happen again anywhere in our nation. It rips my heart in two to imagine what the parents of those children must be feeling today.

    Angelo

  10. Marty Kiar says:

    Very well said Mike. I believe it is imperative that School Resource Officers are stationed in each public school in our county. Although it costs money, no cost is to high if it means that our children will be kept safe.

  11. Parent says:

    I can understand how this can become a heated debate about gun ownership. To me this article does not represent that, it represents deterring a gunman from coming into one of our schools. How can any parent not see the value of an S.r.o. in a school at this point? I would ask all the parents who do not have s.r.o.s in their schools to stand up and find away to make it happen. We do not except bullying in our schools, but will those schools that do not have student resource officers be able to except something like this?
    You are right Chaz, on many levels when it comes to owning a gun and the dangers that come with it, if you are not responsible.
    I can only speak to you on the level of a parent though, providing an s.r.o in every school I believe gives the school one more opportunity to protect our children. The biggest advantage I see is response times, awareness of the surroundings, and the relationship s.r.os have with their kids. S.r.o.s become familiar with the people who come in and out of their schools every day.
    We are lucky we have s.r.o.s in our schools. Many believe that the financial impact of having them is too great! In light of this current situation, there should be absolutely no reservation about finding a way to provide the best protection for our children. The victims of Sandy Hook, where kindergarteners, with absolutely no line of defense to protect themselves, or to be protected. The adults that lost their lives to try to protect these innocent babies from harm are heroes in my book; I just do not see how that will make any of those families feel any better after such a tragic loss.

  12. Protecting our children says:

    I know the following comment may be off base but this tragedy brings to light the need to take extra measures to protect our children not only from bad people with guns but child molesters as well.

    I am appalled, yet not surprised, at the arrogance of Commissioner Castillo to comment on the importance of protecting our children in light of it coming out that he ok’d the promotion of his successor at Broward House who had been surrounded by allegations of child molestation.

    No offense Commissioner, your words of concern ring empty.

    Again, I feel awful about the tragedy on CT, my heart goes out to all of those impacted by these tragic deaths. I will apologize in advance to those who my feel my comment is unwarranted. I will not stand by and watch Commissioner Castillo do his usual routine to grandstand and pontificate about the need to protect children in light of the his role at Broward House.

    From the Miami Herald…

    The disturbing messiness of Mr. McGuigan’s tenure as a foster parent and adoptive dad should have tipped the balance against his acquiring a position that puts him in direct contact with children. Yet he had high-profile defenders, including Angelo Castillo, who retired as Broward House’s CEO in September, and Dean Trantalis, a former Fort Lauderdale commissioner, who serves on the board.

    But wasn’t there an iota of concern? Two board members resigned, but, according to Mr. Castillo, DCF informed him that “no action was required until and unless charges were brought.” This demands investigation. After all, DCF is the same agency that sought to remove Mr. McGuigan’s adopted son. Broward House’s board members need to prove they are worthy of the responsibility they have been given.

    Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/14/3097583/broward-aids-agency-must-make.html#storylink=cpy

  13. @ angelo says:

    Just think of how many SROs could be funded instead of now paying CCA for breach of contract…

  14. Panda Bear says:

    First of all I just want to say that I lack words to describe what I’m feeling about the Connecticut school shooting. Parents send their children off to school to learn in a safe and secure environment. I can only imagine the nightmare, the grief, and the heartbreak each one of those parents is going through. My prayers are with each one of them and their families. Grieving a child is the hardest thing for a parent to go through.
    But when will America wake up? It’s not the first time a total nut job has walked into a school or a college to do the same thing. We need to tighten up on security in public places such as schools, hospitals, and so forth. Checking out an ID and signing a book won’t do it. We have to bring it up a notch. The idea of SROs is wonderful, but the reality is that each one of those cops assigned to the schools are the worst cops on the beat. They are very often not just lazy, but missing a large portion of their cerebellum as well. We need SRO’s that won’t hide in their offices playing cards on the computer or with cell phone games, spend the day sipping coffee, gossiping in the school office, running off campus to run errands, or be talking on their cell phones. We need honest cops who will actually want to go into the schools and work at protecting the children, be a watchful eye for everyone, and be visible on those campuses throughout the hours of the day. Another consideration is the size of the schools. Some of them are too big for just one cop to handle.
    We, in Broward, need to do something (for a change) that will work.
    I hope at some time (soon) the Broward School Board and the Broward Health Commissioners will get together with the Sheriff’s Office and Broward’s 8 District Commissioners, form a think tank and come up with a sound and viable plan to protect our hospitals and schools.
    Again, my heart goes out to all those affected in Conn. I wish there was something we could do to turn back the clock.

  15. John Fusaro says:

    Keeping us safe involves commitment and determination. Our Mayor made the commitment to fund our SRO program even under pressure to save money. The SRO is a deterrent and a valuable resource for children and parents in the neighborhood schools. I met the SRO from Discovery Elementary during my campaign. He (Justin) is truly dedicated to keeping our children safe. The program in Sunrise takes the commitment and resolve from all those whom are part of the program.

  16. Sunrise parent says:

    Thank You Mayor Mike!

    Each of our schools has student resource officer, and even if it is an uphill battle, we as a city have maintained. You cannot put dollar signs on a young life.
    We as parents work too hard for our children to have to worry about going to their schools to discover that their young lives were taken in a senseless act.
    We need to take every precaution necessary to protect our children; they are the future and our legacy.
    Therefore, I will ask every political figure, school board member, and the Governor what is the cost. How much will it take to provide every school the protection it needs to ensure the safety of our children?

    On another note, I would like to thank all the resource officers in our Sunrise schools for keeping our children safe.

  17. UnsafeinSBBC says:

    Yes, all schools need Good and Active SRO’s. I my school, we have an SRO… but he is barely visible. No contact with kids or staff for the most part. A waste of tax payer dollars. Usually in his office behind his laptop. Most teachers have said they will call 911 in case of an emergency. Security in many Broward schools is purely superficial. Many, of not most schools are open campuses. Maybe not on paper, but in reality. A tragedy waiting to happen. Runcie needs to clamp down ASAP!

  18. Lori Parrish says:

    Gun control and SRO officers are important. However, two more issues need to be added to this debate. We need those with mental illness given proper treatment. We also need as parents and grandparents to start boycotting products like Kinnect games Call to Duty Black Ops, AirSoft products and others which teach children violence in the name of greed.

  19. Forced Entry says:

    http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/15/15926718-newtown-gunman-had-altercation-with-school-staff-day-before-massacre?lite

    The gunman in the Newtown massacre had an “altercation” with four staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School the day before he killed 20 children, six adults and himself there, Connecticut and federal officials told NBC News Saturday.

    Three of the four staff members were killed Friday in one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history. The fourth staff member was not at school that day and is being interviewed by federal and state investigators, NBC News’ Pete Williams said.

    Two days before that, Adam Lanza, 20, went to a sporting goods store in Danbury, Conn., and tried to purchase a rifle, but was rebuffed because the state has a waiting period for gun sales, the officials said.

    Still, Lanza was heavily armed when he forced his way into the school Friday morning – after killing his mother at their home in Newtown.

    The officials said he had four handguns on him as he stormed the 600-student school and shot his victims – clustered in two classrooms – at close range.

    [...] Police have also determined Lanza, 20, was not buzzed into Sandy Hook, where he was once a student. “He forced his way into the school,” [...] The weapons he used were were legally purchased and registered to his mother [...]

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2248651/Revealed-Killer-Adam-Lanza-fought-teachers-elementary-school-day-massacre–dead-fourth-wasnt-school-yesterday.html

    [...] Nancy Lanza legally owned a Sig Sauer and a Glock, both handguns of models commonly used by police, and a military-style Bushmaster .223 M4 carbine, according to law enforcement officials who also believe Adam Lanza used at least some of those weapons.

    Nancy Lanza was an avid gun collector who once showed him a ‘really nice, high-end rifle’ that she had purchased, said Dan Holmes, owner of a landscaping business who recently decorated her yard with Christmas garlands and lights. ‘She said she would often go target shooting with her kids.’ [...]

  20. aparent says:

    There are some cities that put the children of their communities first no matter what the cost. They don’t point fingers they, they don’t make excuses they just do what needs to be done. Kudos to : Coconut Creek, Cooper City, Margate, Miramar (also has two in each High School), Parkland, Pembroke Pines, Sunrise. Some of the children in each of these schools come from cities other than the location of the school, to these cities it doesn’t matter when these children are in their city they are under the protection of the city the school is located. So don’t point fingers, do the right thing by the children. It is all about your priorities. And it appears some cities have theirs in place.

  21. Davie Parent says:

    Thank you, mayor.
    Unfortunately you are right. Today we need guards at every school and surveillance cameras, too.
    Gun control makes people feel good, but would not stop a crazy person.
    Pharmaceutical companies need to invent time-release drugs which can be injected under the skin (like birth control) and automatically releases the medicine. That way the crazy person can’t go off his meds. There is no evidence it would have helped in this case, but it would help in many cases.

  22. A Solution says:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/15/newtown-school-shooting-aftermath-live-updates

    [...] Would new national legislation banning certain kinds of guns prevent future mass shootings? Multiple commenters have pointed to the Australian example, which suggests the answer is ‘yes’.

    After a gunman used a semiautomatic rifle to kill 35 people in Tasmania in 1996, Australia passed a law banning semiautomatic and automatic rifles and shotguns. The law included a mandatory buy-back program.

    Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, points to the law’s efficacy:

    In 1996, Australia banned semi-automatics. In the 18 years before, there were 13 mass shootings. [In the 16 years] Since then, none.

    A 2006 paper (1) in the scholarly journal Injury Prevention concluded that the law appears to have worked. The paper concluded:

    Australia’s 1996 gun law reforms were followed by more than a decade free of fatal mass shootings, and accelerated declines in firearm deaths, particularly suicides. Total homicide rates followed the same pattern. Removing large numbers of rapid-firing firearms from civilians may be an effective way of reducing mass shootings, firearm homicides and firearm suicides.

    The Washington Post described a separate study that concluded the law worked:

    A study (2) by Andrew Leigh of Australian National University and Christine Neill of Wilfrid Laurier University finding that the firearm homicide rate fell by 59 percent, and the firearm suicide rate fell by 65 percent, in the decade after the law was introduced, without a parallel increase in non-firearm homicides and suicides. That provides strong circumstantial evidence for the law’s effectiveness. [...]

    1) http://jeffsachs.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Australia-Gun-Law-Reforms.pdf

    2) http://andrewleigh.org/pdf/GunBuyback_Panel.pdf

  23. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    @21

    Are you baked?

  24. Mike Jacobs says:

    Mayor Ryan is correct. SRO’s are an essential part of keeping kids safe at school. Of course, gun control, mental illness and violence in society need to be addressed NOW.

    Parents need to stand up for their kids and insist on chidrens safety first. We cannot wait or just let this go. This horrible type of violence keeps happening and this will happen again and we must do all we can to ensure innocent peoples safety.

  25. Mike Jacobs says:

    Well written article, Mayor Ryan. SRO’s are an essential way to help keep kids safe. Amazing that with all of our taxes dollars, paying for an officer to protect kids would even be a question!

    We all know the SRO’s alone won’t prevent violence, lack of gun control, mental illness and a society that sensationalizes violence are all factors of this horrible trend.

    As parents we need to be the ones who stand up for our kids. This will happen again and we must be proactive. All schools need SRO’s and parents should be leading the charge to keep our kids safe.

  26. Patricia Duaybes says:

    aparent wrote “Kudos to: Coconut Creek. . .” for providing funds for SROs in all schools in the city. Actually, the Commissioners of Coconut Creek voted at the December 13th meeting to provide funds for six SROs to cover the seven schools in Coconut Creek. One SRO will be covering two schools (mornings at one school and afternoons at another). I believe one or maybe both of the schools sharing the SRO are elementary schools.

    The City needs to step up and find funds for one more SRO. Protecting all of our children should be our city’s top priority.

  27. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    Friends,

    Oh, I forgot to mention. Special training and support is needed for any police officer to properly serve in an SRO capacity. Some believe that school duty is an easy detail for a police officer. Not so.

    It is a special detail that requires careful selection of personnel. It takes a lot of work and a fair amount of know-how to do that job well.

    By no means is it as simple as just paying for the service. We have to make sure that the training necessary for SRO’s is in also place. We also need to ensure that there is a strong and mutually supportive working relationship between the SRO and faculty. All of that helps add up to safer schools.

    Thanks.

    Angelo

  28. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    Friends,

    Oh, I forgot to mention. Special training and support is needed for any police officer to properly serve in an SRO capacity. Some believe that school duty is an easy detail for a police officer. Not so.

    It is a special detail that requires careful selection of personnel. It takes a lot of work and a fair amount of know-how to do that job well.

    By no means is it as simple as just paying for the service. We have to make sure that the training necessary for SRO’s is in also place. We also need to ensure that there is a strong and mutually supportive working relationship between the SRO and faculty. All of that helps add up to safer schools.

    Thanks.

    Angelo

    FROM BUDDY: This is so true.

  29. Bill - a concerned parent says:

    Very eloquent article. Mayor Ryan always seems to hit the nail on the head. My belief is simple; if an SRO were available in a crisis such as occurred at Sandy Hook, would they have been able to save even one of the twenty children that were gunned down? Would the presence of an SRO have created a deferent? Probably not for a whacked out lunatic hell bent on killing. BUT, an SRO MAY have gotten to the killing fields and stopped the violence before so many people were gunned down. Ask yourselves one question; what is the value of a child’s life? Can you honestly say we can do without the support of SROs? Do any of you have kids? As a parent who has lost a child to violence; I assure you the loss of EVEN ONE child is UNACCEPTABLE! Ask any parent of a child lost at Sandy Hook if they would give anything for someone to have stopped the gun man before he got to all of the children. The loss of a child is a life altering experience that leaves a permanent hole in your heart that can never be filled. The fact that, in this day and age, we expose any child to potential dangers just to save a few dollars is ludicrous! If you have children, or grand children, go home, look in their eyes and ask yourself one question…. Should I save $$$ or should I, in an abundence of caution, do everything I can to protect this child? It is a simple answer …. SROs are “guardian angels” who protect our children’s right to learn in a safe, healthy and protected environment. To lose even one child just to protect a few $$$ is totally unacceptable.

  30. Mayor Mike Ryan says:

    We know more than we did on Friday. Many SROs and law enforcement (and parents) now believe an SRO may have made a difference, at least for one child or one teacher.

    Not just if the SRO had been in the front office or on the campus, but because of what they do each day. One of our SROs told me of his usual door checks (where he walks the halls between classes to make sure teachers have followed the policy of locking their classroom doors — a security policy meant to slow or stop an intruder). On Friday afternoon, teachers understood his facial expression better than ever when he was able to open an unlocked classroom door.

    The national gun debate will continue without immediate solutions. I want a solution now for our schools.

    PROPOSAL:

    School Board: Tomorrow, double the reimbursement funding per SRO to provide all cities and departments the immediate incentive to put SROs in the Schools. Those who are still unable or unwilling to put SROs in our elementary schools with that level of funding, contract with BSO to put a School Resource Deputy in the schools. Law enforcement will figure out the best way to make sure that Deputy is integrated into the communication system.

    Washington and Tallahassee: Revive the “cops on the street” initiative of the 1990s, when more than 100,000 police officers were funded, but call it “SROs in our Schools”.

    We must do something for our children and teachers. Our time is now.

  31. From Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan to Superintendent Runcie and School Board says:

    From: Ryan, Michael
    Sent: Sun 12/16/2012 10:15 AM
    To: supt_runcie@browardschools.com
    Cc: ann.murray@browardschools.com; donna.korn@browardschools.com; katherine.leach@browardschools.com; laurie.richlevinson@browardschools.com; nora.rupert@browardschools.com; pgood@browardschools.com; rbartleman@browardschools.com; abby.freedman@browardschools.com; rosalind.osgood@browardschools.com; Brooks, John; Cohen, Alan
    Subject: Please Put SROs in ALL SBBC Schools

    Supt. Runcie:

    I am writing you as a Mayor of a City with 11 public schools, including 8 elementary schools, and as a Father who has spent many hours in elementary schools as a volunteer, PTA president and Dad.

    FACT: Elementary schools in Broward County are the schools most likely to NOT have a School Resource Officer, or only have a part-time SRO shared with other schools.

    FACT: It is well-known there is inequity, instability and inconsistency in the SRO program countywide.

    FACT: Those communities most struggling are also most likely to NOT have a Full-Time SRO in schools in their community, or only a part-time SRO.

    FACT: Elementary Schools in Broward County are the most at risk of having the Full-Time SRO program eliminated in the future.

    FACT: Overall, our Elementary Schools remain the most vulnerable.

    FACT: Our residents go to schools outside our City and our City does not control where those students will attend school — the SBBC does.

    Through a cooperative agreement with the School Board, participating cities receive $46,252 reimbursement from the School Board for each SRO. The remainder of the costs of a Full-Time SRO must be absorbed by the individual cities. This reimbursement represents about 1/3 of the total costs to hire a full-time SRO in the community policing model.

    Proposed Solution: Tomorrow, double the reimbursement funding per SRO so as to provide all cities and departments the immediate incentive to put FULL-TIME SROs in ALL schools. This will better balance the SBBC-City utilization/benefits for the municipally-based certified law enforcement officer. For schools where cities are still unable or unwilling to put FULL-TIME SROs with that level of funding commitment, have the SBBC contract with BSO directly and immediately to put a FULL-TIME School Resource Deputy in each of those schools.

    At the same time, let’s advocate for Washington and Tallahassee to revive the “cops on the street” initiative of the 1990s, when more than 100,000 police officers were funded, but call it “SROs in our Schools”.

    Elimination of SROs in elementary schools and the inconsistency of the program across the county prevent us from maximizing the intended short-term and long-term benefits of the SRO program. We can do better for our students and teachers.

    From My Perspective, What is a School Resource Officer?

    SROs are part of the integrated educational team which protects, guides and molds our most precious gifts – our children. The SRO is a certified law enforcement officer who undergoes additional specialized screening and training to serve in our schools.

    Parents, teachers, administrators and those in law enforcement committed to the SRO program agree — elementary schools are the place to foster and grow effective SRO relationships we know are critically important in the middle and high schools.

    The SRO is meant to generate a positive attitude towards law enforcement, offer educational support in our fight against drugs, crime and bullying, develop an understanding of the behavioral issues in the neighborhood and youth community, and construct a beneficial foundation for future interactions with law enforcement.

    The presence of the SRO also provides a deterrent to those targeting young children around our schools. Other beneficial features include traffic safety and an expedited law enforcement response to school violence or weapons. We KNOW they make a difference every day!

    Our SROs routinely perform “door checks” throughout the schools, even in elementary schools thought to be the safest. Why? Because one security procedure is for teachers to lock their classroom doors – to prevent or slow an intruder. One Sunrise SRO told me that on Friday afternoon, the teachers understood his facial expression better than ever when he entered their unlocked classroom.

    Immediate expansion of our county-wide SRO program is the best solution. It is neither desirable nor economically rational for the SBBC to go to Miami-Dade model of hiring a school district wide police force – start up costs for infrastructure of vehicles, equipment and office space, along with personnel, would be staggering. Moreover, that program is a step back from the powerful and demonstrated success of the community based SRO program for our children.

    We must do better for our teachers, students, volunteers, administrators, staff … and families. We can try to prevent or deter the next Shady Hook. We understand the importance. We have a program ready to be implemented now.

    It is only our collective will that will limit us from achieving a balanced, equitable and fully-protected FULL-TIME SRO program for every school in Broward County.

    What will be our legacy?

    Best regards,

    Mike Ryan

  32. Ferraro family says:

    Thank you for coming out and supporting the Panther prowl at Sawgrass elementary once again, it was a great event! Thanks for all you’ve done to save the SRO’s program in our schools and the peace of mind that parents have just knowing their children are a little safer.

  33. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    Well said, Mayor Mike.

    Angelo

  34. Ed Foley says:

    Clearly this all could be avoided if we banned elementary schools in states like CT and PA which have severely restrictive gun laws and encouraged home schooling.
    Two advantages – less slaughter and more kids who can read.

  35. s only says:

    Every school should have a full time SRO. Cut some of the fat cats downtown or satellite rentals and put the money into safer schools for our kids. Wake up and smell the coffee, Broward

  36. Thanks Angelo says:

    Angelo, do us a favor and be quiet. In light of your recent actions/inactions regarding your the child abuse allegations of your chosen successor at Broward House, your thoughts have as much credibility as Rush Limbaugh discussing the benefits a of vegan diet.

    I hope Israel does not hire you to be in a position involving children.

    Speaking of that, looking at your comments, let me take a guess, BSO could benefit all of us by coming in to take over the School Board Police force?

    Angelo, are you ever going to acknowledge that you were wrong for backing your replacement despite knowing the allegations of child abuse surrounding him. Do the right thing Angelo.

    Discuss…

  37. Psycho Mom says:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2248983/Connecticut-school-shooting-Adam-Lanzas-survivalist-mother-obsessed-guns.html

    The mother of Newtown school massacre gunman Adam Lanza was a survivalist who was stockpiling food because she thought the world economy was on the verge of collapse.

    Nancy Lanza began hoarding food and water because she feared that the onging financial crisis was going to bring about the end of civilized society.

    She reportedly became ‘obsessed’ with guns and taught Adam how to shoot, but on Friday in a grim twist he blasted her to death while she laid in her own bed.

    Law enforcement sources told the Hartford Courant that she had not gotten up – and could have even been asleep – when her son killed her. [...]

    In an interview the killer’s aunt said Nancy Lanza was ‘self-reliant’ and indicated she was a ‘prepper’, or a person who prepares for Doomsday by learning essential survival skills – like how to shoot a gun.

    Speaking from her home near Chicago, Marsha Lanza, 57, said: ‘She was stockpiling food. We talked about prepping a lot. She was getting ready for the economic collapse. [...]

  38. Mayor Mike Ryan says:

    On Friday, an Indiana man threatened to shoot up local Elementary School.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/16/von-meyer-indiana-school-guns_n_2311717.html

    Later arrested with 47 guns.

  39. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    @37

    Holy cow.

    Speaking of preppers …

    From the Florida Survivalist Network.

    http://www.meetup.com/Southfloridapreppers/members/14834621/

    Commissioner John Sims

    What aspects of disaster prepping and survivalism interest you most

    Urban, remote & rural survival preparedness, growing/maimtaining alternate food sources, increasing my urban/rural survival knowledge and improving my ability to actually design, make, rebuild, operate and manage electrical and electronic communication equipment after an EMP strike. I also would be hestitant to believe that we in the southern peninsula will ever get out in a disaster, and therefore must make every attempt to survive where we are, or in the general vicinity. Therefore a keen interest is preparing my home to survive in for a length of time. I am particularly interested in the pro’s & con’s of staying put or bugging out, the logistics and the methods that really work…

  40. Plain Language says:

    It’s already been established that Castillo had nothing to do with the selection of his replacement at Broward House. He said so himself and that fact was confirmed by a prominent board member of the group who said the same thing in his letter to the editor published by the Miami Herald weeks ago. You should read it.

    Castillo did what he was told to do by state officials conducting an investigation of a staff member which ended up getting tossed because it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity. The Miami Herald got burned on the story for being sloppy with their facts.

    Castillo is a class act and always has been. Hating him to where you would lie about the guy is bad enough. Hating him for doing his job is also crazy. At least make the effort to find some facts to hate him with so your comments can be borderline credible if not entertaining.

    Personally, I’m impressed that Angelo has shown so much respect for his former employer by not discussing the matter. It requires backbone to take the high road on issues like he did. You may not know much about that either.

    PS — Sounds like you’re one of those sour grapes Lamberti losers still stinging from Israel’s amazing win. Alan Berkowitz perhaps? Take your lumps like a man and move on. Nobody’s a perfect person but you’re clearly out of your depth questioning Angelo’s character.

  41. Inspector12 says:

    No prescription will work without a tougher gun control in the US. I have not seen this kind of mass shooting in elementary schools in the third world countries. Tougher gun control is the only answer

  42. SBBC Doing Enough For SROs? says:

    “This is our first task — caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.

    And by that measure, can we truly say, as a [SCHOOL BOARD], that we are meeting our obligations? Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children — all of them — safe from harm? Can we claim, as a [SCHOOL BOARD], that we’re all together there, letting them know that they are loved, and teaching them to love in return? Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this [COUNTY]the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?

    I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.”

  43. Julia Spann says:

    Mayor Mike —
    I join you in your petition to the Superintendent and School Board to DO SOMETHING NOW to allocate more resources immediately to place SROs and better security immediately to protect our children.

    I must confess, I too am traumatized, afraid and angry all at once from the gut-wrenching violence that shook the world & took precious lives.

    What’s next? Who’s next?

    WE’VE GOT TO FIGHT & PREVENT — We have the capacity to do so……

    WE MUST DO SOMETHING TODAY — NOW!!!

  44. Thanks Angelo says:

    I am not going to disrespect the importance of this topic to debate Castillo other than to say I dont think that one can say the Herald was in error because Castillo sent one of his novles in writing defending himself. When the Herald retracts the story then I will believe they were in error. Castillo wrote a letter in his own defense, what was he going to say “I did it”? To know Castillo is to know he is never wrong, always a victim and will always tell you so in no less than 3000 words.

  45. Real Deal says:

    Four new laws would significantly improve school safety and gun ownership without having to banning or curtail the sale of weapons to citizens:

    First, no firearm of any kind may be legally manufactured, owned or sold within the United States unless it has a keyed trigger lock. It shall be the legal responsibility of every gun owner to keep the lock on the trigger at all times and maintain the key in a safe, separate location whenever the firearm is not in the physical possession of the owner. At purchase, every buyer of a firearm shall simultaneously purchase a bond or insurance policy valued at $1 million which shall become due and owning in the event that firearm is stolen from the buyer and used by another to cause bodily harm or property damage. Failure to comply with any portion of this section shall be considered a third degree felony.

    Second, all ammunition shall be marked with a non-removable identifier that permits law enforcement authorities to easily track who purchased it, when and who sold it to the purchaser. Sale of ammunition that does not comply with this requirement shall be considered a second degree felony.

    Third, there shall be treatment upon demand for any person suffering from any form of mental illness or substance abuse, the cost of same to be borne by the taxpayer except to the extent that the individual is able to pay for their own care.

    Fourth, it shall be illegal for any school to call student classes into session unless a certified, armed police officer is present within the building and assigned specific responsibility for preventing unauthorized intrusions unto the school property.

  46. David Iannacone says:

    Well written Mayor Ryan. You touched on the feelings of all parents who send their children off to school every day with the hopes that it will be a safe environment. As more info becomes know about this senseless tragedy, it is evident that an SRO presence at the school would have, at the very least, acted as a deterent or perhaps stopped the advance of this lunatic. We need to start the conversation in this country about treating our mentally ill and gun control,instead of putting it off like we have been doing. Collectively, we need to demand that our elected officials, from the school board; to our cities;through to Congress do what’s right for our communities and citizens.
    FULL TIME SRO’s should be in every school!! A safe environment for children to learn in should be a no brainer and will help ease the minds of all parents who send their kids off to school in what we have always felt is THAT safe place.
    As to the comment by Panda Bear:
    It’s obvious you know nothing about the great work that SRO’s (especially Sunrise) do in our schools. My high school sons still talk about their elementary school SRO and when they see him at community events, make the effort to interact with him to this day. That police/youth bond is one of the important aspects of the program.

  47. Dear Plain Language says:

    I have googled angelo castillo and miami herald and have found nothing of which you have described. Also I searched the herald website and no letter from Castillo comes up.

  48. A real Cop says:

    I am a police officer who must shamefully admit that I never agreed with an officer assigned to an elementary school. Definitely, high school, and some middle schools are certainly deserving. However, I never in my wildest dreams believed that an elementary school full of 5 to 10 year olds needed protection. I believe this way because worldwide it seemed as though every culture, race, nationality, and religion (no matter how radical), respected the unspoken rule: CHILDREN ARE SACRED!
    It’s inexplicable as to why this occurred, but judging by the most recent events, it is obvious that my opinion concerning officers protecting elementary schools was grossly wrong. I just hope that our community and its leaders understand that we need to do whatever is needed to ensure this does not happen again. Although I know my opinion did not cause this tragedy and could have changed it, I shamefully feel a little responsible due to my thoughts that officers weren’t needed in elementary schools. I do not live in a city that currently have SRO’s in our schools, however, I will support my commissioners in any way I can to ensure we change it.

  49. Plain Language says:

    The comment I made that a prominent member of the group’s board wrote a letter clarifying what took place. Here is the link to that letter.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/29/3119495/trantalis-broward-house-needs.html

  50. Lois says:

    Dear Plain Language, I refer you to the November 9, 2012 edition of the Miami Herald, in which this letter from Mr. Castillo appears:

    My comment to this reporter was that “I am not authorized by Broward House to speak on their behalf or regarding any Broward House matter.” This quote was not printed. However, records at the Florida Department of Children and Families and Agency for Health Care Administration will show that Broward House contacted them just as this personnel related matter arose seeking regulatory guidance on the correct handling of this matter. Their guidance was followed to the letter and with all required parties well informed. The state’s regulatory guidance was that no action was required until and unless charges were brought, and even then, proper response would depend on the nature of the charge brought. This had nothing to do with vouching. It had to do with following the state’s well-established procedure in such matters. No charges were ever brought in this matter therefore no action was required. Broward House at all times followed the state’s guidance, monitored the matter closely, and kept all parties that needed to know these facts well informed.

    Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/09/3090152/ceo-accused-of-child-sex-abuse.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=cpy

  51. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    @Real cop

    Our children our sacred?

    Not according to the Catholics…

    The Report determined that, during the period from 1950 to 2002, a total of 10,667 individuals had made allegations of child sexual abuse. Of these, the dioceses had been able to substantiate 6,700 accusations against 4,392 priests in the USA, about 4% of all 109,694 priests who served during the time covered by the study.[2] The number of alleged abuses increased in the 1960s, peaked in the 1970s, declined in the 1980s, and by the 1990s had returned to the levels of the 1950s.[3]

    The surveys filtered information provided from diocesan files on each priest accused of sexual abuse and on each of the priest’s victims to the research team so that they did not have access to the names of the accused priests or the dioceses where they worked. The dioceses were encouraged to issue reports of their own based on the surveys that they had completed. Of the 4,392 priests who were accused, police were contacted regarding 1,021 individuals and of these, 384 were charged resulting in 252 convictions and 100 prison sentences; 3,300 were not investigated because the allegations were made after the accused priest had died.

    Thus, 6% of all priests against whom allegations were made were convicted and about 2% received prison sentences during the period ending in 2002.[4][2] According to the John Jay report, one-third of the accusations were made in the years 2002 and 2003. Another third of the allegations were reported between 1993 and 2001.[3]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Jay_Report

  52. Plain Language says:

    Correct. Then came the board member’s letter to the editor as if to remove any remaining doubt. Case closed.

  53. Mayor Mike Ryan says:

    To a real cop: Your heartfelt and deeply emotional message is so important.

    There were so many who do not believe SROs in elementary schools could ever match the “productivity” of officers on the “streets”. Arrest statistics will never compare. Measuring pursuits could not be matched against the role of a SRO. Everything that seems to define being an officer is said to be different than the role of an SRO in an Elementary School.

    But, the children understand. The parents looking in rear-view mirror, seeing their child’s school fade away, understand. The teachers facing the least protected schools understand. You understand.

    Security is but one role. In the long term, that role is not the dominant purpose of the Full-time SRO program, especially in Elementary School. Being the ear into which a whisper of danger, or pain, or approaching darkness can be heard is not a statistic — the value or importance of that whisper can never be judged by numbers or statistics. That which is prevented or never occurs is not a statistic, it is a reality perhaps never fully understood or seen. Being the person to whom someone can turn on the streets or schools years later justify the link built in the most formative years.

    But, Sandy Hook proves to many having a SRO can and will make a difference in Broward County. Sadly, elementary schools are the first to lose a SRO.

    Your support for Full-time SROs means more than my words as an elected official and a father, or the postings of the uninspired. Your understanding of why we must ensure a SRO in EVERY school for Broward County I hope motivates action.

    Thank you for not remaining silent.

  54. Thanks Angelo says:

    If they new what was printed in the article below, asking for guidence from ChildNet was Castillo and the Boards way of not getting thier hands dirty and having an excuse to keep him.

    As Angelo says in this article, “he was never convicted” ok true. Sadly many child abusers dont get convicted. In my opinion, knowing what Broward House knew and decided to only act only upon conviction is sad. Many times because something is legally right does not make it morally right.

    Nine years later, McGuigan’s name surfaced again when 7-year-old Gabriel Myers committed suicide shortly after leaving McGuigan’s foster home. A now-adult man from Massachusetts called Margate police, who were investigating Gabriel’s death, and claimed that McGuigan had molested him years earlier. The Massachusetts man had been a victim of McGuigan’s father, John J. “Sean” McGuigan, who was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for raping and molesting children. Sean McGuigan, now free, remains a registered sex offender.

    In February 2011, a Broward County judge ordered that no foster children be placed in McGuigan’s home after an 8-year-old boy told his caseworkers that McGuigan had molested him. By that time, DCF had already removed three foster children from McGuigan’s home, and McGuigan then relinquished his foster care license.

    Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/09/3090152_p2/ceo-accused-of-child-sex-abuse.html#storylink=cpy

  55. lms says:

    Mayor Ryan,

    As always, thank you for your leadership & call for sensible action. There’s nothing more honorable then protecting our most important (and at risk) treasure in our schools.

  56. Joe Spatafora says:

    Prayers for the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary. Mayor Ryan, great article and thanks for your support of SRO programs everywhere.

    Here is where I believe the real problem is with our society. The following numbers were researched quickly by myself. The first article shows that in 2012 we fund approximatley $10,600 per student in the United States.

    The second article shows that in 2007, 5 years ago, we funded approximately $30,600 per inmate in the United States. I’m sure we are funding a lot more per inmate today.

    Why are we spending considerably more money rehabilitating inmates rather then spending this money on our children? A $30,000 budget per student in the United States would be a great place to start. This would not only enhance the quality of education our children receive but also help fund SRO’s in all schools throughout the country. Give inmates $10,000 per year budget instead, if that. Is it possible that if we spend this money on our children it would keep a lot of them out of the system?

    Reference:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/22/public-school-spending-sh_n_1619569.html

    In all, public school districts spent an average of $10,615 per student during the 2010 fiscal year, up 1.1 percent from 2009.

    D.C. public schools spent the most per pupil of any state in 2010, $18,667. The District of Columbia was followed by New York ($18,618), New Jersey ($16,841), Alaska ($15,783), Vermont ($15,274) and Wyoming ($15,169). This group is largely consistent with a July 2011 analysis by 24/7 Wall Street that ranked states by how much they spend on education.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incarceration_in_the_United_States

    U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Not adjusted for inflation. To view the inflation-adjusted data:[91]
    In 2007, around $74 billion was spent on corrections.[91] The total number of inmates in 2007 in federal, state, and local lockups was 2,419,241.[18] That comes to around $30,600 per inmate.

  57. Plantation Working Mom says:

    Always right on target Mayor Ryan! This tragedy brings numerous issues to the forefront. We, as citizens of this country, cannot and I, as a parent, will NOT let this go. We must stay vigilant in our fight for SRO’s in ALL schools in this country. We must stay vigilant in our fight to re-instate the ban on assault weapons. We must stay vigilant in addressing the issue of mental illness in this country. Too many lives have been lost to deranged people armed with assault weapons. It must stop now!

  58. Mayor Mike Ryan says:

    Orange County approved placement of officers for 60 elementary schools. Like Broward County, they have SROs in Middle and High Schools, but elementary schools have been cut.

    http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/Orange-County-Commissioners-Approve-Paying-for-Armed-Deputies-at-Elementary-Schools-184042941.html

  59. Yanet Espino says:

    Mayor Ryan, although our children attend a private school, we would like to thank you for keeping all the children in Sunrise safe by providing SRO’s in all of our schools. It’s very important to all parents including us that our children are in a safe environment while attending school. Thank you on behalf of our family, we are very proud to be Sunrise residents.

  60. christine says:

    Caution: Atheists are urged to pass over this post.

    Twas’ 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
    when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven’s gate.
    Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
    they could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
    They were filled with such joy, they didn’t know what to say.
    They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
    “Where are we?” asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
    “This is heaven.” declared a small boy. “we’re spending Christmas at God’s house.”
    When what to their wondering eyes did appear,
    but Jesus, their Savior, the children gathered near.
    He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same,
    then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
    And in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring
    those children all flew into the arms of their King!
    And as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
    one small girl turned and looked at Jesus’ face.
    And as if He could read all the questions she had,
    He gently whispered to her, “I’ll take care of mom and dad.”
    Then He looked down on earth, the world far below,
    He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe.
    Then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
    “Let My power and presence re-enter this land!”
    “May this country be delivered from the hands of fools”
    “I’m taking back my nation. I’m taking back my schools!”
    Then He and the children stood up without a sound.
    “Come now my children, let me show you around.”
    Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
    All displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
    And i heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
    “In the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT.”

    Written by Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, PA

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