School board votes to fund officers

FILE PHOTO | Northwest Florida Daily News
Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 03:32 PM.

FORT WALTON BEACH — The Okaloosa County School Board voted 4-1 Monday to approve spending more than $500,000 to keep school resource officers in every elementary school.

School board member Melissa Thrush opposed the measure, citing a lack of funding, after a discussion that was at times heated and emotional.

At the end of December, Sheriff Larry Ashley decided to shift 26 deputies to cover Okaloosa’s elementary schools in response to the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that killed 26 people earlier.

Ashley said the resource officers will cost $1.1 million through the end of the school year in June.

He has asked the school board to chip in half to cover the cost.

“I was very proud of our school board members,” Ashley said after the vote. “They understand that we had no response to an armed subject walking into our elementary schools prior to Jan. 7.”

He told the school board he had considered bringing a shotgun to the meeting to reiterate how important a resource officer can be in the case of an armed suspect.

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