• Duval director of school police talks about school safety assistant application process, training

    By: Courtney Cole , Action News Jax


    Action News Jax is getting answers to your questions about the armed security personnel that will be at every public elementary school in Duval County next school year.

    Action News Jax told you on Tuesday about the district’s plan to hire school safety assistants.

    Reporter Courtney Cole spoke to the director of the Duval County School Police Department, Micheal Edwards, to learn about their job qualifications and responsibilities. 

    "When we lived, I’ll tell you, in Pittsburgh, we had an officer on site, it made me feel a lot better,” Jacksonville parent, Theodora Bollinger said.

    In fall 2018, 107 school safety assistants will have the responsibility of keeping your kids safe in public elementary schools throughout Duval County.

    However on the flyer, there’s only a short list of qualifications, which include:

    • Must be at least 21-years-old.
    • Must be able to obtain a Florida carry-concealed weapons permit.
    • must have a valid Florida driver's license.

    Some parents were also concerned about how the applicants will be screened.

    "We are doing everything that we can to make sure that we vet these individuals as thoroughly as we can," Michael Edwards, director of Duval County School Police Department, said.

    If they are accepted, the applicants will then be required to undergo a psychological evaluation and a total of 200 hours of training, with school police and JSO.

    "With my experience and the team that we have here, I feel very confident that these individuals will be prepared,” Edwards said.

    The difference between school safety assistants and school law enforcement officers will be apparent in their uniforms and the patches they wear.

    "If the funding was there--I would love to put a sworn officer in each one of our schools. But based on the funding that was provided, this was the best option. I mean the only alternative is to not do anything,”  Edwards said. 

    It would take $10.8 million to put a law enforcement officer in every school. 

    Edwards told Action News Jax, they only received $3.6 million to work with, from the state.

    The school safety assistants will be paid $12.50 an hour, which works out to roughly $20,000 for the school year.

    When asked about these numbers, Edwards said he feels the amount it appropriate. 

    "These applicants are only going to make $20,000, so a parent might say, how do you expect to get the best applicants or the most qualified applicants for 20-grand?," Action News Jax asked.

    "When we modeled and looked at this position, we actually looked at the community officer post at JSO. When I was at JSO, I helped create that position." Edwards said.

    Edwards said so far, 20 people have applied for the job.

    The application is available online.

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