Clay County School Board votes to create its own police department

Sheriff's Office says it's concerned, board did not think decision through

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – The Clay County School Board voted Thursday night to create a police department within the district to handle any issues in schools. 

On Friday, Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels expressed concern, saying he doesn't believe the school board completely thought this plan through.

"There’s an investigative side to law enforcement that they’re not thinking about. The jurisdiction will belong to the school board police department, with coverage being needed 24 hours a day," he said.

The school board members voted 4-1 for option B. The new plan would separate the Sheriff's Office from the schools and give schools their own department for the upcoming 2019-20 school year. 

READ: Option B details | Summary of all options

Stacy Brown, a Clay County mother, said she worries when her children go off to school.

"It does scare me to have my kids in school and be concerned about their safety," she said. "I'm all for (the new plan). It's great, keeping the kids safe. I have two high schoolers and it seems to be the big problem -- safety of kids."

The Sheriff's Office said it wishes the school board would have asked for help in planning this out. It says there's an investigative side to law enforcement and coverage will be needed 24 hours a day. 

A school board representative said this all came about because it's been nearly a year since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and, after reevaluating, they think this change will be better for the district.

The cost would be more than $6 million for the first year and $4 million for the second. The approval of a recent millage rate increase for school security will help pay for the new department, as well as funding from Safe Schools and the state. The district said it came up with the estimated cost by accounting for salaries, as well as the cost of vehicles, firearms, laptops and other gear that will need to be purchased. 

The new department would have 47 members -- 39 police officers, four sergeants, one detective, one training lieutenant, one lieutenant and one chief.

"I think it's wonderful. I think the safety of the children in schools is so important," said Anna Marie Boyette, who's a nanny. "That's just terrifying for me to think about the kids we love being afraid to go to school."

Addison Davis, superintendent of Clay County District Schools, told News4Jax that he and his staff came up with a plan to create an effective police department, and his goal is to protect students, faculty and staff. 

According to the school district, there will be more to come before the new school year and there will be several meetings to iron out all the details.

About the Author: