Sheriff adds back middle school resource officers

Posted on February 1, 2018 by Romi White

Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson has made good on a couple of campaign promises he made during his 2016 bid to become top cop. Johnson has started hiring resource officers for middle schools and recently began upgrading the agency’s outdated patrol unit fleet.

“It really feels good to start delivering on my campaign promises,” Johnson told South Santa Rosa News on Wednesday, explaining that Deputy Liem Chau has been hired to serve as the Holley-Navarre Middle School Resource Officer.

Johnson worked with HNMS Principal Joie DeStefano to make the hiring choice.

School resources officers were taken out of local middle schools around 2008 due to budget cuts, according to Johnson.

“The reason we want resource officers in middle school is, number one, for protection of kids and, number two, if you reach kids before they get to the teenage years when they have formulated their opinions on cops you can make a difference. They see that officers are human beings,” Johnson said. 

A second school resource officer is headed to King Middle School, and Johnson plans to hire a couple of new SROs each year during his four-year term so that all of the county’s middle schools will have one.

In total, Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office was approved for 19 new positions this fiscal year.

Additionally, with revenue generated by the additionally local option sales tax, the agency was able to add 57 new patrol units to its fleet.  According to the agency, the 2018 Dodge Chargers will be used to replace older, high mileage patrol cars.