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Tampa Area Students To See Increased Police Presence In Final Days Of School Year

Flanked by local law enforcement and School Supt. Jacqueline Byrd, Polk Co. Sheriff Grady Judd announces Friday that schools that don't currently have full-time police presence will be staffed by officers during the final days of the school year.
Polk County Sheriff's Office
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Many Tampa Bay area law enforcement agencies are acting in what officials call an abundance of caution by increasing their presence in and around schools in the final days of the school year. 

It's in response to Friday's school shootingin Santa Fe, Texas. Ten people were killed and ten more wounded when a 17-year-old who is believed to be a current student at Santa Fe High School, southeast of Houston, opened fire.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and School Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd have agreed to bring in officers to protect 111 public and charter schools that don't currently have full-time protection.

Judd said he's trying to send a message with the move, which will use a combination of sheriff's deputies and officers from local jurisdictions to protect the schools for the final days of class.

"Whether it's adults that make any kind of threat or students or kids that make any kind of threats towards the schools during this next three and a half days, they will be investigated and arrested," he said.

Judd added that regular street patrols will continue, as they will be using detectives and other officers working overtime to cover the schools.

"What we want to do is make sure this last three and a half days that our students can focus on school, finishing their final exams and getting ready for an awesome, awesome summer," he said.

Other local school districts and sheriff's made similar announcements Friday afternoon.

"While there are no current threats against Pasco County schools, out of an abundance of caution, in light of the tragedy today at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, we will have a heavy law enforcement presence near schools throughout Pasco County for the remainder of the school year," Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said in a statement.

It's a preview of what students across Florida can expect next year, as a new state law requires at least one armed and trained person - either law enforcement or guardians hired by school districts - at all public and charter schools.  

As Judd said, "Today is the last afternoon in the Polk County School system that there won't be armed security on every public campus."

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Mark Schreiner has been the producer and reporter for "University Beat" on WUSF 89.7 FM since 2001 and on WUSF TV from 2007-2017.