St. Johns County School District will double its armed youth resource officers next month

St. Johns County School District

St. Johns County School District will double its number of youth resource officers patrolling campuses next month.

The addition fulfills a promise from the superintendent to add more armed deputies to schools.

The addition of 16 new officers planned for Jan. 7 is welcome news to St. Johns County mother Jessica Rezendes.

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“I do feel that an officer at the school that’s armed puts parents at ease, knowing that it’s not going to take five minutes to get to the school if there’s an active shooter. There’s somebody right there,” said Rezendes.

Action News Jax first reported in August that fewer than half the schools in St. Johns County have an armed deputy on campus.

The district is one of many throughout Florida that’s still working to comply with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.

The new law requires all Florida schools to have either a sworn law enforcement officer or a “safe school officer,” which is a school employee that receives high-level firearms training from law enforcement.

St. Johns County has 39 school campuses. The Sheriff’s Office already has 15 youth resource officers.

The addition of 16 youth resource officers next month will still leave a gap of eight campuses in St. Johns County.

Superintendent Tim Forson said the district hired armed private security to protect campuses that do not have dedicated deputies.

“Right, it does not. It does not fulfill the law. So, the cost of doing that really falls back on the school district. It’s about a $1 million additional cost to make that happen. But I think, as a parent myself, moms and dads, they want to know that there is someone there who is ready to respond should something occur,” Forson told Action News Jax on Aug. 6.

A St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said roving deputies are assigned to schools protected by private security.