Volusia County gears up for safe start to new school year.
Written by Kristen Schmutz
Belden Communications News
The first day of school for Volusia County students is on Monday, August 14, 2023, and the Volusia Sheriff’s Office and law enforcement agencies across Volusia County are gearing up for a safe start to the school year by familiarizing themselves with new protocols and encourage the public to do the same.
With students soon filling the roads, sidewalks, and crosswalks, safe driving and situational awareness will be a priority. In this regard, deputies will add extra patrols and enforce speed limits near school campuses, corresponding with the efforts of school resource deputies, officers, crossing guards, and school guardians positioned throughout Volusia County.
“If you’re out driving at the start or end of the school day, the safety of our kids on their way to and from school starts with you,” Sheriff Mike Chitwood said. “We have all the personnel and technology in place to make this a safe school year, but we need everyone in our community to pay attention and help us out.”
A notable change for the 2023-24 academic year involves a revised protocol for reporting disruptive or criminal incidents occurring on Florida school campuses. The Florida Department of Education has taken steps to address the under-reporting of such incidents, specifying the categories of incidents that school districts must report to law enforcement like homicide, sexual assault, battery, weapons possession, drug or alcohol possession, vandalism, threats, and altercations. Parents are asked to converse with their children regarding these offenses and should know that students can face criminal charges when warranted.
Preparedness for worst-case scenarios remains a priority, as deputies, police personnel, and school guardians have undertaken comprehensive training in responding to active assailants on school grounds. This program features single-response training, wherein a lone deputy or officer is mandated to swiftly engage the threat if they are the first to arrive at the scene.
Anyone with any information about potential threats to school campuses should utilize the FortifyFL app or website to alert law enforcement and provide critical details.
Also, in collaboration with Volusia County Schools, the Sheriff’s Office has been actively training staff on utilizing the Centegix crisis alert system, which equips school personnel with wearable badges containing an alert button for swift communication with law enforcement during incidents or crisis. With several false alarms raised last school year, law enforcement agencies will ensure each potential incident receives an urgent response from patrol deputies in the area.
The Sheriff’s Office is committed to the safety and security of every student and school employee, which has prompted Sheriff Chitwood to appoint Captain Todd Smith, as Director of Safety and Security for Volusia County Schools. The Sheriff’s Office will continue to work closely with the School District to ensure parents can send their kids to school knowing they’re in a safe place to learn, develop their skills, and build their future.
As a reminder, the third installment of the Youth Safety Forums is scheduled for tonight, August 9, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Deltona City Hall, 2345 Providence Boulevard in Deltona. The event will focus on addressing concerns regarding internet predators, human trafficking, and other perils faced by youth. Families, parents, guardians, and children are strongly encouraged to attend.
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