School resource officers in Flagler County, Florida, routinely carry guns and Tasers, and some also carry pepper spray and expandable batons. Jim Manfre, incoming sheriff in Flagler County, may soon be removing Tasers from that list—and other changes may be coming to Flagler schools as well.
“My vision of the school resource officer is of a mentor, not just as a law enforcement officer,” Manfre said. “I just need to make sure the Taser is not affecting the ability of the school resource deputy to have that role with the students.”
In 2007 a deputy used a Taser to subdue a special education student at Flagler Palm Coast High School. Was that an appropriate response to the situation? Don Fleming, who was sheriff at that time, thought the answer was no, and he removed Tasers from Flagler’s schools. They were reintroduced after a student head-butted a school resource officer earlier this year. That incident also landed a teacher in the hospital with a back injury.
Incoming Sheriff Manfre is considering a number of changes in the roles that school resource officers play, and all of them focus on improving student outcomes. Proposals include:
- stressing officers’ roles as mentors
- strengthening Police Athletic League programs
- enlarging the civil citation program for first-time misdemeanor offenders
- sending officers to the homes of habitual truants
Sheriff Manfre and Superintendent Janet Valentine will be meeting to discuss these changes.
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Jean Reynolds, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus of English at Polk State College, where she taught report writing and communication skills in the criminal justice program. She is the author of seven books, including Police Talk (Pearson), co-written with the late Mary Mariani. Visit her website at www.YourPoliceWrite.com for free report writing resources. Go to www.Amazon.com for a free preview of her book The Criminal Justice Report Writing Guide for Officers. Dr. Reynolds is the police report writing expert for Law Enforcement Today.