Polk County Public Schools’ Safe Schools ensures the safety and security of all public schools within Polk County.

The division advises on all matters related to the safety and security of Polk County Public Schools’ students, staff and facilities, ensuring the school district utilizes best standards, practices and philosophies.

Safe Schools Responsibilities include:

  • Overseeing school resource officers and school crossing guards countywide.
  • Coordinating safety, security, and emergency preparedness assessments, inspections, and training.
  • Recommending staffing changes, equipment purchases and facility upgrades related to school safety and security.
  • Collaborating with other departments within the school district on capital improvements related to school safety and security.
  • Performing inspections of schools and district offices to ensure compliance with safety and security policies, and advising administration of non-compliance issues.
  • Ensuring adherence to emergency management goals, including providing for restoration of services, functions, and facilities in a timely manner.
  • Coordinating event and risk assessments with local law enforcement agencies.
  • Fostering and sustaining professional relationships with school administrators, various outside agencies, private contractors, and community contacts.
  • Ensuring coordinated responses by local law enforcement agencies and school officials to criminal activity on school campuses. Responsibilities related to school discipline remain solely with the Polk County School Board.

The Safe Schools Department is staffed through a contract with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, and encompasses the School Resource Unit, School Safety Guardian, Gang Resistance Intervention Unit and School Crossing Unit.

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Polk County Sheriff’s Office School Resource Unit

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office School Resource Unit is comprised of two sergeants and 19 school resource deputies. The Polk County School Board provides partial funding for these positions, with deputies assigned to eight high schools, eight middle schools and two alternative schools. The School Resource Unit provides services to 42 campuses throughout the county.

The School Resource Unit is responsible for the delivery of law enforcement services to the public schools in the unincorporated areas of the county. In addition to their regular duties, school resource deputies provide services to 24 elementary schools.

The School Resource Unit is also responsible for the coordination and supervision of Explorer Post 001. The program utilizes two school resource deputies as coordinators and 12 school resource deputies as advisers of students in the Explorer Post between 14-19 years of age. The primary goal of the post is to introduce students to the many aspects of law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

Gang Resistance Intervention Unit (GRIP)

The Gang Resistance Intervention Unit is comprised of one sergeant and eight deputy sheriffs. GRIP is a grant-funded unit focused on educating students on the negative effects of gangs, diverting at-risk students from their gang affiliations, and providing a gateway to successful academic and career opportunities.

School Crossing Unit

Two full-time civilian supervisors and eight part-time coordinators, assigned by geographical territories throughout the county, supervise the School Crossing Unit. They oversee approximately 160 part-time school crossing guards and 30 substitute school crossing guards. The members assigned to this unit are responsible for the safety of elementary school-aged children who have to cross major roadways on their way to or from school at the 131 crossing locations.

School Safety Guardian

The School Safety Guardian is an employee of Polk County Public Schools with extensive training from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. School Safety Guardians are based at elementary schools.

Explorer Post 001

Explorer Post 001 will give members the opportunity to participate in the annual “Explorer Academy,” which previews many of the same objectives the “Recruits” must study and become proficient in while in the law enforcement academy at Polk State College. This academy will prepare you, as an Explorer, to participate in “Ride-Alongs” with actual working deputy sheriffs out in the field.