Davie considers tax to raise money to pay for police at every school

After the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December, Davie decided to put police officers in all of the town’s public schools.

But after six weeks, saying it was too much of a strain, the police department pulled the officers out.

Unhappy parents and teachers complained, and on Wednesday, the Town Council held a meeting to discuss a solution.

They decided to put it to the voters.

On April 23, Davie residents will get to say in a non-binding straw ballot whether they support raising property taxes in order to raise money for the hiring of additional police officers.

Resident Lisa Modafferi, who is also a first-grade teacher at Silver Ridge Elementary School, knows exactly how she’ll vote.

“I don’t think our children’s safety should have a price tag,” said Modafferi, whose twin daughters attend kindergarten at the school. “If police presence can stop one copy-cat, then it’s money well-spent.”

Before Sandy Hook, school resource officers were placed in the town’s middle and high schools. But after the deadly shootings, Davie opted to add police to each of its seven elementary schools.

But that proved expensive, said Davie police spokesman Dale Engle.

“It’s a financial strain on any municipality,” said Engle. “It’s a substantial amount of increase for our budget.”

Police officers were working 40-hour weeks at each of the schools, he said.

All together, that cost the police department a total of about 280 work hours per week.

The Broward School District has no unified policy on the placement of police officers in schools, said spokeswoman Tracy Clark. It’s up to each municipality to decide whether or not to place officers in elementary schools.

Policies vary.

Hollywood, like Davie, has police officers in middle and high schools but not elementary schools, Hollywood Police spokesman Pablo Vanegas wrote in an email.

But in Miramar, one officer is posted in every public elementary and middle school, and two are posted in every high school, said police spokeswoman Tania Rues.

At Davie Elementary, where parents and teachers created a petition calling for the school resource officers to be reinstated, Principal Robert Schneider said he felt the officers were a positive influence on the children.

“It’s been a pleasure having them here,” said Schneider. “The children get to see the officers and develop a relationship with them. I think everybody feels a lot safer.”