Broward schools could become a little less safe to learn in next year as the Broward County Sheriff announced it may pull its deputies out of school campuses because of budget shortfalls.
Sheriff Al Lamberti's concern comes off as a threat considering the county's top cop and the County Commission have been at odds over budget cuts for nearly a year. The county wants Lamberti to shave about $60 million from his budget next year.
But nothing gets politicians' attention like threatening the safety of children.
"I don't want to cut it, but we're right back to the question of if not that program, then where," Lamberti told the Sun-Sentinel. "I've been given a mandate, and some programs have to go. I hate to see this one go, because the work is so comprehensive, so much more than people realize, I think."
Lamberti's announcement comes as parents and teachers just finished one of the most violent school years in recent memory. National stories like what happened to Josie Lou Ratley and Michael Brewer prove that security on school campus may be as vital as ever.
In the case of Ratley, she was nearly stomped to death on school campus.
For the past 10 years, the hallways and entrances of Broward schools have been patrolled by law enforcement officers in the school resource officer program. BSO provided as many as 54 deputies to the program, but other agencies also participate and provide security on school campuses.
Last school year, only six deputies were fulltime resource officers.
Still, teachers and administrators on school campuses said they are far more comfortable knowing BSO is nearby to thwart any school violence.
BSO would save $4.4 million if it dropped out of the school security business and its likely many of the officers wouldn't be laid off but instead placed in vacant positions within the agency.
The Broward School Board has not commented on the issue, which may soon become very political, but that hasn't stopped administrators from siding with BSO about the importance of the badge in the classroom.
Students are also learning a pretty valuable lesson, too. Their safety comes at a price.