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Miami-Dade School District Asks Local Police Departments To Help Put A Cop On Every Campus

Al Diaz
Miami Herald
Miami Dade Police Officer Kenny Bonnet patrols in Kendall late last year. County police officers might be assigned to school campuses starting in August.

Florida’s largest public school district is asking local police departments to share the cost of stationing an officer on every campus.

A new state law passed in response to the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School requires a cop at every school. Schools can also meet that requirement by training and arming school staff, possibly teachers — a controversial proposal that South Florida districts have rejected.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho has sought help from the county and other municipalities to comply with the law.

“Every single mayor that we’ve spoken with has received our plea and our request for partnership with open arms and open hearts,” Carvalho said during a press conference at the school board building in downtown Miami on Friday.

The district has its own police force, but those officers are only assigned to middle and high schools. That leaves about 240 schools without police coverage, he said.

The district got $10 million from the state for school safety, of which $2 million goes to charter schools. Under Carvalho’s plan, the remaining $8 million would be split in half: the district would hire an additional 40 to 50 police officers for its own force with $4 million, and the other $4 million would be distributed to the county and 34 municipalities to contribute to salaries and benefits of police officers that would be stationed at the remaining schools.

Carvalho said the county is planning to deploy 114 officers to schools in the fall, pending approval from local officials.

A spokeswoman for Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez confirmed in an email that the county is working with the school district to try to meet the need for more police officers. The county police department tweeted on Thursday aiming to gauge whether retired police officers would be willing to rejoin the ranks to serve at an elementary or K-8 school.

The Miami Beach Police Department has committed to help staff schools there with cops, and Carvalho said there are a series of similar deals in the works across the county. He expects at least two-thirds of schools to have a police officer on campus when school starts in late August.

He said, though: “What you will not see in Miami Dade is an entity other than certified professional law enforcement assume that role and that responsibility.”

Jessica Bakeman is Director of Enterprise Journalism at WLRN News, and she is the former senior news editor and education reporter. Her 2021 project "Class of COVID-19" won a national Edward R. Murrow Award.
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