Broward school district has yet to reimburse police departments for resource officers

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – There was quite a revelation at Tuesday’s Broward School Board meeting.

It’s now almost eight months into the school year and cities around Broward County have not been reimbursed for the resource officers currently safeguarding the children and faculty in those schools.

“What we have now is not a partnership,” said Hollywood Police Chief Chris O’Brien. “Communications have broken down. There is no sense of urgency, and let me just circle back, that is the school district’s responsibility to staff these schools.”

While O’Brien was representing Hollywood police, he’s also the president the county’s chiefs of police association which used to negotiate police resource officer contracts.

On Tuesday we learned that is no longer the case.

“The chiefs have decided to individually negotiate those contracts,” O’Brien said.

That means the district will have to negotiate contracts with each city for the officers they provide at schools.

“There hasn’t been a single day where municipalities haven’t provided an officer in the schools, as they promised with last year’s contract, even though we’re not getting paid,” said O’Brien. “That will continue for the remainder of the school year.”

The municipalities want a three-year deal so they don’t have to go through this every year.

It’s hard to believe this is happening in the same county the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School happened just five years ago, and hours after the school shooting on Monday in Nashville, Tennessee, all while Florida considers a law that would give people the ability to carry weapons without a permit.

There was concern from School Board Member Debi Hixon, who lost her husband in the Stoneman Douglas shooting.

“If our students and staff don’t come home, nothing else matters,” she said. “So we have to put our money where our mouth is in this particular instance.”

Tuesday also brought some clarity and a path forward when it comes to those contract negotiations.

“It’ll be $73,000 for this year and as we move for the next three years, $75,000 for the next three years,” said Broward Schools Chief of Safety and Security Jaime Alberti.

That’s the price the district is offering. The school resource officers wanted around $100,000 for that span.

This is a sign that the two sides are getting closer and that an agreement may be coming soon.

About the Author:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.