Students return to the classroom on Wednesday, but Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk is reminding residents that school safety starts with the community.
New security measures have been implemented by Collier County Schools since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February rocked both Florida and the rest of the nation. Doors are now locked, schools now feature a security access camera system, and additional safety drills have been scheduled. Law enforcement is now present at every school in compliance with new regulations pushed by Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature this year. In Collier, those officers have been specifically trained in youth relations to deal with students, teachers, and faculty.
Upgrades in equipment, procedure, and manpower help to improve security, but Rambosk says that it all begins with Collier residents.
“As all of us are aware, school safety is not just about traffic and slow-speed zones anymore,” Rambosk said. “It takes an entire community working together to keep our schools safe. We must all turn our safety awareness into action to keep our kids safe.”
One of the areas where the CCSO is asking for the public’s help is in identifying individuals with mental health issues before a tragedy occurs.
“As we look at the tragic events occurring all over the country, we always come back to [that] there were mental health issues that people knew about or observations that were made well in advance of the tragic event occurring,” said Rambosk.
At a press conference on Monday, the sheriff suggested five things residents can do to help increase the safety of students and teachers:
-Use a gun lock on weapons or keep them stored in a secure vault or safe. The CCSO has created a back to school video where Sergeant Brian Sawyer reviews the different types of safes in which to secure a firearm.
-Report suspicious activity, threats, social media posts or pictures by calling 911 or non-emergency 239-252-9300.
-Get adults and kids the support help and support they need before a mental health crisis occurs. The CCSO recommends reaching out to the Collier County Youth Resource Center or the David Lawrence Center in addition to school guidance counselors and family medical professionals.
-Know what your child is seeing and doing on social media. CCSO said that new penalties have gone into effect as of July 2018 making it a second-degree felony to create, post, or transmit a threat to carry out a mass shooting, even if it is done as a prank.
-Pay attention to your driving and drive safely as children will be walking, biking, and riding buses to school.
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