Gulf County works to keep kids safe

Stacy Strickland

Port St. Joe School Resource Officer Stacy Strickland reviews surveillance cameras set up around the high school.

Wes Locher
Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 09:52 AM.

When it comes to school safety, a 1999 Colorado tragedy was the catalyst for new standards and practices.

“Columbine changed schools,” said Assistant Superintendent for Business, Duane McFarland, of the incident during which 12 students and one teacher were killed.

Since that event the nation has witnessed additional shootings at several schools and campuses. Safety remains a main concern for parents.

This begs the question: How safe are Gulf County schools?

“Besides educating successful students, school safety is priority number one,” assured Superintendent Jim Norton. “You take your kids to school and you expect to get them back safe.”

Stacy Strickland, School Resource Officer since 2005 for both the Port St. Joe elementary and high school said, “I keep the kids safe. I’m out there. I’m walking the halls. I’m keeping an eye on things.”

Though stationed in the center of the high school which provides easy access to all common areas, he notes that he can be on the elementary campus in less than five minutes. The schools are networked by a communication system and Strickland carries a walkie-talkie on his hip and a cell phone is his pocket ensuring that he can always be reached in the event of emergency.



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