CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A big question on the minds of parents in Clay County is the safety of students following the election of a new sheriff and the acting school superintendent winning the Republican primary.
A public feud between Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels, who has been plagued by scandal and was suspended five days before Tuesday’s primary, and former Clay County School Superintendent Addison Davis, who left to become school superintendent in Hillsborough County, led to the creation last year of the Clay County District Schools Police Department.
The school police force is led by Chief Kenneth Wagner, who’s a former law enforcement officer with more than 20 years of experience.
According to a school spokesperson for Wagner and Superintendent David Broskie, who has been serving as interim and won the Republican primary but still faces a write-in candidate, told News4Jax there are no immediate changes to school security as of Wednesday.
Broskie is expected to form a relationship with Wagner and Sheriff-elect Michelle Cook, who defeated incumbent Daniels to win the Clay County GOP primary and then saw the write-in candidate withdraw his candidacy.
Broskie previously told News4Jax he supports the school police force, which consists of more than 40 officers.
“They act as a deterrent in front of schools. They serve as a visible symbol that you need not come there because police are going to protect that school. In addition, we actually arrest people bring them to jail in those vehicles,” Broskie said.
There have been some high-profile cases in which the school police department office has responded — like a scare at an Oakleaf football game in Septemeber when a practical joke contributed to a panic that there may have been a shooting.
Broskie has said he sees the true value in having school police.
“We had an issue come up earlier on in the year where a student out at Argyle came up missing. Parents reported, we dispatched 19 Clay County school police officers to search for the individual, as well as working with the Clay County sheriff’s department, and we’re blessed that individual was found,” Broskie said.
The decision to keep the school police force ultimately lies in the hands of the Clay County School Board, which takes up the issue annually. In this case, that will be in spring 2021.