ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Orange County leaders were bickering back and forth on Wednesday over school security and staffing.
Mayor Teresa Jacobs, who is running for Orange County School Board Chair, was slamming Sheriff Jerry Demings, who is running for Orange County Mayor, over a lack of dedicated School Resource Officers (SROs) in Orange County schools.
“I was very disappointed to see the way he has handled the situation in terms of his communication,” Jacobs said.
Sheriff Demings, who is hoping to replace the outgoing Jacobs as the county's next leader, says she's playing dirty.
“We have some people sadly who are running for School Board Chair, who are running for other offices, and they are using this situation as a platform for politics,” Demings said.
The accusations were flying at dueling news conferences over why there aren't enough SROs in the county.
“His communication is not, is not forthright,” Jacobs said, pausing to choose her words.
“I just say to all of you,” Demings later said, “that's simply wrong.”
Demings said, regardless of funding, there is and will be an SRO in every school.
“The implication that we'd somehow compromise the safety or security of our schools is insulting.”
Jacobs says Demings should have come to her much sooner if he knew they needed more deputies.
“If he needed 75 new positions,” she said, “the time to start hiring them in my personal opinion would have been in April or March. Not letting me know the Friday before school started.”
Since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the state has mandated officers for every school.
Jacobs said she and Demings urgently need a face-to-face meeting to hash this out.