Pompano Will Hire Seven New SROs
By Marie Puleo
At its Oct. 23 meeting, the City Commission approved approximately $1 million to fund seven additional Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) deputy sheriff school resource officers (SROs) to staff all of Pompano’s public and charter elementary, middle and high schools, in compliance with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act that was signed into Florida law last March.
The new SROs are in addition to nine SROs the City already had, which will allow each of the 15 schools to have its own full-time SRO. Blanche Ely High School was assigned a second SRO due to its high student population (about 2,100 students). Prior to the new SROs being hired, three of the original SROs divided their time between three schools each.
The cost for each new SRO is about $153,000, which includes all benefits, a vehicle and equipment. One-third of the cost is funded by the Broward County School District and the rest is funded by the City. The original nine SROs are currently funded through a grant.
Pompano BSO Chief Major John Hale said it has always been a priority to provide law enforcement staffing at the schools, and after the Parkland tragedy on Feb. 14 of last year, it became even more apparent.
“Bottom line, it’s the law now,” said Hale. “We started the school year with a full-time deputy sheriff at every single one of our schools in Pompano, and with the support of both the Sheriff and the Pompano Beach City Commission that will continue.”
Hale said having SROs at schools isn’t only about school safety, it also allows children in the community to interact with the deputy in their school, and to “build bridges.” Deputies have the opportunity to recognize kids that need a little extra attention, or families that need assistance.
“It’s been an excellent conduit for us,” as far as community and youth relations, said Hale.
The City Commission also approved hiring five new road patrol community service aides (CSAs) to supplement the four that currently serve the city. The cost for each new CSA is about $95,000.
Patrol CSAs undergo over 200 hours of training at the Community Service Aide Academy in Davie. They work as unarmed civilians handling traffic accident investigations, parking enforcement, crime scene processing and other routine, non-emergency law enforcement activities.
“They’re a great assistance to free up deputy sheriffs for other more critical duties,” said Hale.
One newly hired CSA graduated from the eight-week course at the academy a few weeks ago, and the others are expected to begin their training there this month.