Schools should leave policing to the police

Government school administrators in neighboring Clay County have learned by experience that trying to run a police force is unwise. Jacksonville continues to lag behind the times.

Earlier this month the Clay County School Board voted to turn policing of the schools back over to the sheriff’s office next year.

It had been running its own police department since 2019.

Clay Sheriff Michelle Cook was quoted as saying she could see the change coming when school board candidates were talking about the issue last year.

Cook told News4Jax that her agency has the depth and equipment to do the job and is prepared to do so.

She noted that her agency is in the business of policing and the school district is in the business of educating.

That’s kind of the point.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office once provided school resource officers but for various murky reasons the school board decided to set up its own police force in 2001.

It hasn’t worked all that well. A statewide grand jury criticized the chief of the school police a couple of years ago for submitting inaccurate crime statistics to the state.

The schools constantly complain about not having enough money. Having a police force is an expensive proposition.

It is a bigger job in Duval than it is in Clay County. Duval has about three times as many schools and budgets $20.6 million for its police operations.

But taking over the job it once performed is not at all beyond the capability of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

At least one Duval County board member is on board with spending more money on education and less on policing. Whether a majority can be convinced to give up turf remains to be seen.

Lloyd Brown

Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.


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