With guns on their hips, almost 100 school resource officers met with administrators at a town hall Friday to discuss safety in schools.

  • National School Safety Conference met at Championsgate
  • School resource officials stressed importance of relationships
  • Topics included prevention before apprehension

“First of all, parents send their kids to school every day through our door with an expectation of safety,” former Joplin, Missouri Schools Superintendent C.J. Huff said during the last day of the National School Safety Conference at Omni Championsgate Resort in Osceola County.

Discussions at the meeting centered on the concept of prevention before apprehension.

“Whether you talking about bullying or active shooters, or in my particular case, dealing with natural disasters, it takes everybody pulling together to make sure that the resources are in place, that everybody is working together toward the same goal of having safe and secure learning environments where teachers can teach and kids can learn,” Huff said.

“The biggest challenge we've seen is in regards to monitoring social media,” began Tim Enos, the Executive Director of the Florida Association of School Resource Officers.

School administrators can get everyone working together “by being the coach, by being there, by being accessible, by being available, having an open-door policy and by being able to talk and just be able to give guidance and mentoring,” Enos said.

Panelists agreed that before- and after-school resources are also paramount.

“If they’re getting excited about school, they’re getting excited about being a part of their community in a positive way, and then they’re less likely to be involved in gangs or start a life of crime,” said John Shanks with Fight Crime: Invest In Kids.

Advocates insist the most effective school safety initiatives start at a young age.

“They’re going to be there for those kids to see that they actually care,” Enos said. “By building those relationships, that’s really true crime prevention. They’re going to come to you, they’re going to talk to you, they’re going to explain those things and you’re going to be able to use the tools that you have through your agency in order to, as well as your partnership with the district to be able to go and stop anything that could potential be bad on your campus.”