As we embark onto the new school year we are reminded of the lives that were lost in Parkland, Florida last year. As a result of the tragedy, Florida enacted a new law requiring law enforcement to be present at all public schools in the capacity as School Resource Officers. Due to this new law we are assigning three of our law enforcement officers to the following schools: Beachland Elementary, Rosewood Magnet, and Saint Helen’s Catholic School. We have personally hand selected each officer based on their experience, education, and certifications to not only protect the students but to also continue to create/ maintain relationships within the community. The following is a small biography for each officer along with their assignment:
Officer Megan DeWitt
Officer Dewitt has served with the Vero Beach Police Department for approximately 18 years. Officer Dewitt has detective experience, as well as holding multiple law enforcement certifications for DARE, RADKIDS (a self-defense class for children), and RADWOMEN (a self-defense class for women). Officer Dewitt has trained countless women and children to defend themselves and to notice strangers that may seem out of place. Over the years Officer Dewitt has taken great pride in teaching DARE to all three schools that we will be assigning officers. Officer Dewitt has also trained newer officers on policies, procedures, and police tactics. Officer Dewitt has also been trained on how to handle active shooter scenarios. Officer Dewitt will be assigned to St. Helens Catholic School.
Officer Charles McFarland
Officer Mcfarland has served with the Vero Beach Police Department for approximately 20 years. Officer Mcfarland is a prior detective that has always had a knack for teaching. Throughout a majority of his career Officer Mcfarland has trained younger officers on policies and procedures as well as police tactics. Officer Mcfarland has numerous hours on how to handle active shooters and is patrol rifle certified. Ofc. Mcfarland has also been awarded Officer of the Year from the agency. In the near future, Officer Mcfarland will also be attending DARE. Officer Mcfarland will be assigned to Beachland Elementary.
Officer Randall Slattery
Officer Slattery has served with the Vero Beach Police Department for approximately 13 years. He holds multiple law enforcement certifications as being a firearms instructor, as well as instructor techniques, and is DARE certified. Officer Slattery also assists training our current police force in active shooter, firearms qualifications and familiarization. Prior to entering law enforcement, Officer Slattery was a math teacher. Officer Slattery will be assigned to Rosewood Magnet.
Recently all three officers have attended training to become school resource officers. It is with great pride that we bring in the new school year creating new bonds within the community. I would like to tell the parents that have their children attending these schools our agency will do everything we can to create a positive learning environment while also maintaining complete safety on campus from “bell to bell”.
I would personally like to thank the principals, the school board, and Superintendent Dr. Rendell for assisting us with this integration process in getting to learn the procedures on each specific campus. I would also like to thank the Vero Beach City Council Members for agreeing to fund these positions at the most recent budget hearing. As I have said numerous times there is no mission more important than the safety of our children in the community.
In closing I would like to say that our police department is looking forward to the school year and if we work together as a community we can have a successful school year for both learning and for safety.
Vero Beach Police Chief David Currey