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Issue 640

05/16/2013 at 4:19pm

Deputy Jared RogersMeet School Resource Officer
Deputy Jared Rogers

School security and the safety of beach children is a priority to parents and the community. Local officials depend on the assistance of the School Resource Officer Program provided by Lee County Public Schools in conjunction with the Lee County Sheriff’s Department. Deputy Jared Rogers is the School Resource Officer (SRO) assigned to Fort Myers Beach Elementary.

Deputy Rogers has been with the department since May 2004, but joined the SRO program in mid-February of this year. That’s when he was assigned split duty between Heights Elementary on Gladiolus, and Beach Elementary School.

"It’s an excellent position,” he said. "I enjoy serving as a role model for kids on a daily basis.”

Before applying for the position and going through the interview process, Deputy Rogers ran patrols in North Fort Myers. "On patrol, it was not always a positive experience. I spent time working with hardened criminals. This job, working with kids who admire what you do and respect you as an authority figure, is much more positive.”

He explained that his superiors, when considering him for the SRO position, looked at his past interactions with juveniles and his work ethic. "It’s not for everybody,” he said. "You have to be very self-motivated and able to work and conduct yourself without a lot of supervision.”

"We don’t get involved with school discipline, unless there is a criminal offense,” Rogers continued. "In the elementary schools, it is very uncommon for us to get involved at all on that level. I stand in the hallways between classes and interact with the students without interfering with their activities. A lot of the kids will high-five you, and that’s pretty neat.”

Deputy Rogers seems to enjoy that part of his job a lot. "I’m in the lunch hall for all periods, so I get to see all the students at some point during the day. They like to ask me questions, like ‘How many criminals have you killed?’ but I try to redirect them to something more positive and appropriate for their age. They also like to check out my gear, guns and tasers.”

When asked about his own thoughts on the SRO program, Deputy Rogers responded, "You can’t cut corners when it comes to safety. I have two kids of my own who are at the elementary school age, so as a parent, I definitely appreciate the presence of law enforcement.”

The Lee County School Board is considering the addition of full-time SRO’s to each elementary school in the district. "It would be great,” said Deputy Rogers. "When I’m split between two schools, as I am now, it’s hard to learn names. And even though there are less students at Fort Myers Beach [Elementary], I have a hard time remembering the names of the teachers and staff, much less the students. I think having one of us at each school would be great.”

Deputy Rogers says that he is enjoying his work at the school and hopes to see it continue. He definitely likes the positive aspects of his new post, likes serving as a role model to young children.

According to the Lee County Sheriff’s Department website, the School Resource Officer is a full time Deputy assigned to work within the Lee County School System. Their mission is to help provide a safe learning environment for our children and school facility.

All SRO's are trained and certified through the National Association of School Resource Officers.They receive training at both the Basic and Advanced schools. They are trained first responders in the event of an emergency.

The SRO also teaches classes such as DUI Awareness, Gang Awareness and Drug Awareness & Resistance.

The SRO's work to stop violence in the schools and investigate those who engage in criminal activity. Together with the Lee County School staff and administration, the School Resource Officers are making a difference.

According to Lee County Public Schools, the officers are a component of the Safe Schools allocation, which has been in existence since the late 1980's. The SRO is not necessarily a DARE officer, although many have received training, a security guard, or an officer who has been placed temporarily in a school in response to a crisis situation, but rather acts as a comprehensive resource for his/her school on a year-round basis.

Chris Doyle