PBSO deputies, sergeants could start work at Palm Beach County public schools

(As originally published with bells and whistles, Thu, March 17th 2022, 12:38 PM EDT)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — Deputies and sergeants from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office could start working at some public schools as soon as next week if the school board approves the proposed contract.

Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has already signed the document, and the school board is scheduled to discuss it at their next meeting, Wednesday, March 23, at 5 p.m.

According to the proposed contract, the purpose would be to “enhance school safety initiatives,” but neither the number of schools to get the extra help – nor their names – are included.

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The proposal calls for two sergeants and 20 deputies working every day at hours set by the school board. The district has 25 openings for school assignments.

The school board would pay the sheriff’s office $100 per hour for each deputy and $136 per hour for each sergeant. Each law enforcement officer would be paid their normal overtime rate, time and a half their normal hourly rate. The rest of the money would go to operational and administrative costs, according to PBSO.

The sheriff gets full discretion on any law enforcement issues and “the principal of each school is the ultimate decision-maker regarding disciplinary issues.” But any dispute on duties and functions would be decided by the sheriff.

Either side would be able to end the agreement with 30 days written notice.

If approved, the contract would run from March 22 of this year through May 26, 2023.

There are similar contracts with police in Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens and a service that helps connect officers to off-duty work called “Extra Duty Solutions.” Those pay rates range from $66 to $98 per hour.

FILE – Deputies from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office could soon start patrolling Palm Beach County public schools, March 2022. (WPEC)

The school district already has its own police department with more than 200 “sworn police officers to carry out all law enforcement activities throughout the district’s schools and facilities,” according to its website. Their base pay range is $41 to $67, the district says.

In January, Patrick McCutcheon was appointed acting chief after previous chief Dan Alexander resigned for a job in Virginia, after working for just eight months.

At that time, discussions were raised about the two departments merging.

In December 2021, the school district released data showing six times as many student suspensions for felonies compared to before the pandemic, and weapon incidents on campus increasing roughly 118 percent in that time.

More recently, CBS12 News has reported on a series of student fights.

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