ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Are there enough deputies protecting schools? The answer depends on who you ask. Now the people at the top are battling it out in front of the public.
A new state mandate, put into effect after the shooting at Parkland, requires every school to have school resource officers.
After months of memos sent back and forth, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings are now publicly throwing each other one-two punches in back-to-back news conferences.
“I was quite candidly a little concerned at that point,” said Jacobs.
“I'm really perplexed as to why this has become some sort of controversy,” said Demings.
Back in May, Demings sent Jacobs a memo, saying there wasn’t enough time to hire the 75 extra deputies needed to keep a school resources officer in each Orange County Public School. So for this school year, he planned to pay current deputies overtime to work as SRO’s.
“I heard that he needed 75 positions for the following school year. if he needed 75 positions for this school year, the time to start hiring them in my personal opinion would have been in April,” said Jacobs.
Jacobs is also questioning why Orange County wasn’t ready to fully employ SRO’s when every other district seemed to be on track.
“The implication that we would somehow compromise the safety of students really is insulting. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office had the greatest burden there because we're the largest agency,” said Demings.
This fight is filled with political implications as Demings runs for Jacobs’ position as Orange County mayor and as Jacobs runs for chair of the school board for Orange County Public Schools.
Demings says he officially signed a contract Wednesday with the school district to pay deputies overtime to fill the SRO positions. The district had no comment Wednesday but told FOX 35 on Tuesday that each school has been assigned an officer for this school year.