Sarasota Sheriff's Office set to no longer secure city schools

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SARASOTA - Changes in school safety are on the horizon for Sarasota County Schools now that the sheriff's office has announced it will no longer be providing school resource officers to secure city schools.

"It just makes sense from a safety, a security, from a tactical perspective," said Major Kevin Kenney from the Sarasota County Sheriffs Office.

Major Kenney is talking about the decision the Sarasota Sheriff's Office made to remove school resource officers from schools within Sarasota and Venice city limits.  The sheriff's office is not in schools within North Port city limits.

"The beginning of next school year those agencies who have schools in their jurisdiction will become responsible for those schools," said Kenney.

Currently there is at least one Sarasota Sheriff's deputy at every middle and high school in the county, with the exception of North Port.  But the change will mean area police departments will now have to take on the responsibility of keeping those schools safe.

"Having the same officers who patrol the communities respond to those school is a good thing," added Kenney.

County-wide, only 6 schools will be affected and Deputy Kenny says the purpose behind the change is not financially motivated.

"Truth of the matter is it's really not a budget relief for us, its actually an increase.  We have to avoid the cost of those deputies right now their salaries are being paid for by the school board," said Kenney.

Officials from Sarasota and Venice Police Departments were unavailable for comment but we did catch up with the school board.

"I have begun the process of discussing this transition with city and police department leaders.  The safety and security of our students, staff and visitors is our highest priority, and I am confident that all parties will work together to ensure that this critical service continues at the city schools," said Sarasota County School Board Superintendent Lori White.

In the meantime, Major Kenney says the change is the right thing to do to make sure things run smoothly in case of an emergency.  "It gives continuity of command on a day-to-day basis but also in those incidents where they may have critical incidents it just make sense."

The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office will still have 13 school resource deputies stations at school that are in unincorporated county area.