JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Officers were under the Friday night lights as the high school football season began in the Jacksonville area.
Police and security officers were out Friday evening, working to keep players, students and fans safe at high school football games.
At Raines High School in Northwest Jacksonville, fans told News4Jax that they were happy to see the security as they watched the Vikings take on the Lee High School Generals.
The high school football rivalry between Raines and Lee brings out thousands of spectators who fill the stands and any place where they can get a glimpse of the game.
Friday night was no exception. News4Jax was told that more than 4,000 people showed up for the matchup.
Dr. Diana Greene, the superintendent of Duval County Public Schools, said having that many people requires an adequate amount of security.
“You will see them and you will not see them. So, they’re covering every corner," Greene said of the security officers. "They’re also ensuring that, as people come in, their baggage is checked.”
Everyone entering the gates was checked with a metal detector wand to make sure no weapons were brought into the stadium. While some officers were strategically placed in certain areas near the stands, others were conducting foot patrols through the crowd.
There were more than 20 school district police officers inside the stadium and lots of Jacksonville sheriff's officers patrolling the surrounding neighborhood to make sure people were safe getting to and from their cars.
“Well, we’re in a new normal. We need to be prepared for any opportunity for something that could happen on our campuses," Greene said. "So, our security is not in light of something that recently happened. It’s always been this way to ensure that, when you have large crowds like this, you need to make sure they are safe.”
Greene said the number of security officers at each game is determined by the number of spectators anticipated to show up, Rivalry games draw larger crowds, so more officers will be assigned to those games.
At Raines' football stadium, security officers working the game were on top of everything. Anytime it appeared something was happening in the stands, security immediately responded to make sure nothing bad was happening.