Children attending Cape Coral schools just got more protection. The city will now cover some of the costs to hire 22 additional school resource officers.
The city council voted unanimously to approve more than $1.1 million to purchase 23 new police cruisers, clearing the way for every school in Cape Coral to get their own resource officer.
The city will be taking those officers from specialty units and assigning them to one of the schools. They said the effort is posing some challenges, but it’s something they’ve wanted to do for years.
“I am 100 percent behind having the school resource officers be our Cape Coral police officers,” said one person who attended Monday night’s meeting.
A new state law requires armed law enforcement at every school. But recently, Lee County commissioners said they would only provide LCSO deputies to schools in unincorporated parts of the county, which meant Cape Coral Police had to find another solution.
“What we will do is we will re-deploy some officers from other specialty units, not taking any officers from patrol. We’re not going to deplete our patrol, so this will not impact 911 response times or anything like that,” said Lt. Dana Coston with the Cape Coral Police Department.
Cape PD said they will get those 22 officers trained over the summer so they will be ready for the new school year in the fall.
In the meantime, they will have to fill those vacancies and buy more patrol vehicles for the new officers.
“When you are talking about the cost of hiring a new police officer, you’re talking about capital expenditure, your personnel cost and your operating cost. That vehicle and equipment is part of that cost so when you’re factoring in, adding one new body to the police department, the vehicle is a part of that,” Coston said.
Lee County Schools is helping fund the new SROs by paying $50,000 per officer. It’s something a lot of people in the community are in favor of if it means more safety in schools.
“I’d rather have security than not have it just because I pay two cents less on something,” said mother Hope Ellsworth.
Cape PD will immediately begin advertising to fill those open positions. The officers who were transferred to schools will also have the option to go back to their specialty units after those positions are filled.