SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Safety in schools is at the forefront of conversations across the nation right now, including in South Mississippi. Since the tragic deaths of 17 students and teachers at a high school in Parkland, FL this month, schools across the Gulf Coast have seen a spike in both real and false threats, as well as rumors of threats.
Fortunately, most of these have turned out to be false alarms. However, with nationwide attention on security in schools, the focus for many is on how districts are keeping students safe.
School districts typically either have their own campus police forces or they rely on city or county law enforcement to help protect students. In South Mississippi, our schools rely on a mixture of both. But every school district in South Mississippi has one thing in common - they all have armed officers protecting schools in every district.
Here's a list of all of the districts in South Mississippi and how the schools are protected there:
Bay-Waveland School District employs a Bay St. Louis police officer to keep the schools secure. Officials say the officer works for the district 192 days a year. The district, in turn, pays his salary for those days on a reimbursement basis.
Biloxi School District utilizes its own campus security with armed school resource officers.
George County School District has a mix of its own school resource officers, as well as deputies from the county's sheriff's office and Lucedale Police Department.
Gulfport School District has police officers from the city's police department acting as the district's security.
Hancock County School District uses armed sheriff's deputies for its campus security.
Harrison County School District uses city police officers from local authorities to act as campus security. Officials said officers from D'Iberville, Gulfport, and the sheriff's department all assist the schools in their areas that are in the district.
According to Jackson County School District superintendent Dr. Barry Amacker, the district has multiple school resource officers who also serve as deputies for Jackson County Sheriff's Department.
Both Long Beach School District and Pass Christian School District use officers from city police departments as campus security for their schools.
Moss Point School District officials say they have their own campus police department to keep students safe, which includes three resource officers who are all armed and prepared to engage if necessary before city police officers are even called.
Ocean Springs School District and Pascagoula-Gautier School District each have their own campus police forces with armed officers.
Stone County School District says the sheriff's department provides armed deputies to act as school resource officers.
Pearl River County School District has its own campus police, says superintendent Dr. Alan Lumpkin. There are three school resource officers, as well as a campus police chief. All of them are trained police officers who have been deputized by the sheriff's office and are armed.