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Safety experts recommend increasing security at Lee County schools

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Photo: Video by fox4now.com

Safety experts recommend increasing security at Lee County schools

By Fox 4 News Staff. CREATED Feb 6, 2013

 FORT MYERS, Fla. - Hector A. Cafferata was one of the first elementary schools to get an armed officer and one of the few. But instead of the exception this could be become the rule.

A total of 10 armed deputies patrol all of Lee County's 50 elementary schools.

"Is 10 enough?" asked Fox 4 reporter Gabrielle Sarann to Patrick Hayhurst, the director of security for the district. "No," he replied. "What it's doing now is adding more security. But of course we would like to have one at every school. That would be perfect."

Hayhurst is leading the charge. It would cost $4 million to add the extra School Resource Officers (SRO's). He's asking Sheriff Mike Scott for half the money.

"Let us know as soon as possible that the county commissioners, or he, has the funds for it and then we'll go ahead and more forward with ours, as well," suggested Hayhurst.

This is part of a larger recommendation. It includes equipping all schools with the latest safety locks to make classrooms more secure.

"You can lock them from the inside, you don't have to go to the outside of the door to lock them," Hayhurst explained.

The price tag for the locks is $5.5 million and about half of district schools already have them. This is the message these changes send, "We have deputies there. Don't do something stupid when you're on property," added Hayhurst.

School board member Don Armstrong is a supporter. he views these safety precautions as priceless. 

"that's one of our goals to make sure students are safe at all times," said Armstrong.

And even in these cash-strapped times, Hayhurst and Armstrong hope the district works out a way to pay for this.

"As far as I'm concerned, i don't put a price tag on student's safety, nor will I," concluded Armstrong.

Sarann spoke with Sheriff Mike Scott by phone. He supports this initiate 100 percent, said he sees it as an investment and plans to aggressively promote it. Scott hopes county commissioners are on board to increase his budget to make this happen.