Escambia County School District is in the process of hiring Campus Security Officers. These CSOs job is to protect students, staff and visitors from danger on campus. For example, if an active shooter were to make their way on campus. It is a new position the school district is implementing this school year.
With the start of school, student safety is on many parents' minds, like mother Tiffany Williamson according to WEAR-TV
"There's school shootings, kids being snatched, just different things going on these days," said Williamson.
Learning that every elementary school will have armed security, bell-to-bell, brings her a sense of relief.
"It makes my heart feel good. There are officers, they’re early in the morning to help with traffic while dropping off, but knowing someone will be there all day just makes me feel better," she said,
Superintendent Malcolm Thomas said hiring the campus security officers is challenging, the standards are set high.
"Becoming a Campus Safety Officer (CSO) is not easy. Not only do you go through a job interview and background check with your fingerprint, but a background check where officers go into your neighborhood and ask about you. You're polygraphed, you'll have a psychological evaluation, and that's all before you get into the class," he said.
He said the marksmanship is also proving challenging.
"What is expected for a campus security officer is more advanced than what you expect a deputy on patrol. You need to be more accurate and shoot in a better range," said Thomas.
There have been over 100 applicants, but Thomas said there are only 18 potential CSOs in training with the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.
"We're hoping we'll be able to keep more than half of those. We will deal with all of those and they will graduate the Saturday before school starts."
They are looking to hire 26 CSOs in total to cover all elementary schools. Unlike Student Resource Officers, who also deal with crime prevention, the sole job of a CSO is to protect the schools' students, staff and visitors in the case of an emergency.
"In some ways, it makes us feel safer. In some ways it makes us safer, but the reality is we have to still stay vigilant on the kids on our campus and adults on campus," he said.
If they cannot hire the needed amount of CSOs, Thomas said they will use their partnerships with our local law enforcement to place armed security on needed campuses. As for middle and high school campuses, Thomas said they are set for this year to have armed security. Each middle school campus will have a sworn officer on campus. All high school campuses will have two, with the exception of Northview High School.