Gulf County works to keep kids safe

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

Deputy Donna Huggins is the SRO for Wewahitchka schools and provides the same services for northern Gulf County.

“The School Resource Officers aren’t just employees, they’re truly a part of the school family,” said Norton.

Strickland is head coach of the Port St. Joe Junior High baseball team and travels with different organizations and athletic teams when they go on trips outside of school hours.

In addition to having a trained officer on campus, the Gulf County elementary schools in Port St. Joe and Wewahitchka take security measures one step further and close a series of metal gates around the entrances after the first bell rings.

These gates force visitors to enter the building via the office where they must check in and receive a visitor’s pass. It’s only after obtaining the proper credentials that they will be allowed to pass through a second door and enter the school. Teachers are trained and encouraged to keep an eye out for strangers and approach anyone that they don’t recognize.

There are 70 cameras throughout the Port St. Joe high school that cover the parking lot, hallways, and common areas. Strickland said that these eyes in the sky are not to violate student privacy, but to ensure that administration can trace the source of a problem and respond immediately.

In any emergency situation the first five minutes are critical and a lot can happen before people react. Each classroom in Gulf County schools is required to have a classroom emergency procedure guide. These flyers are required to be in plain sight and readily available in a time of need.

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