Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake City News

Challenge Learning Center - Revisited
Now the cops are there

LCPD car at the Challenge Learing Center
After the choking incident of Challenge Principal Deborah Hill, the temporary fix of the School Resource Officer issue is working its way toward a resolution as the District and the Lake City Police Department put their heads together to come up with a permanent solution.

After the choking incident of Principal Deborah Hill at the Challenge School, the LCPD now has a presence at the school. Principal Hill told the Observer that both she and her staff are more at ease now that the police are there. Ms. Hill said, "I am very pleased. My staff is feeling a sense of security and I'm seeing a little bit more respect coming from the students."

The temporary fix of the SRO (School Resource Officer) issue at the Columbia County School District's Challenge Learning Center is working its way toward a resolution as the District and the Lake City Police Department put their heads together to come up with a permanent solution after the choking incident of Principal Deborah Hill.

Where are we now?

LCPD Juan Cruz, one of the officers that has signed up for extra duty at the Challenge Center told the Observer: "Having someone here from the PD is a good thing. The teachers notice it and so do the students. There is less fighting and less stealing. Having the car parked out in front of the building lets everyone know we are on the campus."

Superintendent Mike Millikan told the Observer: "We are in negotiation with the City for an SRO to be assigned to the Challenge Learning Center as part of his or her duties. Until we get that contract negotiated with the City, we are individually contracting with off duty officers to the Challenge in conjunction with our own private security aids that are school employees."

The Superintendent continued: "We are dealing with it the best that we can. We are pleased that there is somebody down there and we are waiting to see what the City's contract proposal for a full time SRO looks like."

While the kinks are being worked out of the system there have been times when the Challenge School was left without a police officer presence. The process has been a day to day affair, with Ms. Hill not knowing whether or not an officer would show up until they arrived.

Chief Gilmore: "I've directed Capt. Blanchard to make the school aware beforehand if someone is not going to be there from the LCPD.

Chief Gilmore also explained that she has told her people that on their down time when they are writing reports they should park their car by the Challenge Center.

Everyone is getting on the same page

Chief Gilmore: "I am looking forward to a successful relationship between the LCPD and the school."

Deborah Hill: "I'm looking forward to the time when there will be someone permanently assigned to the school, so that they will get to know the kids and their habits, and the kids will get to know that person."

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Comments  (to add a comment go here)

On Dec. 14, 2010, Denise from Lake City wrote:

I do not understand why the elementary schools all have an SRO, while the school which probably needs it most is without.  I’m glad to see that they have worked out the issue in the short term, but would like to see the city put an officer in there permanently.

An SRO who is there daily can build rapport with the faculty, staff and students, and might be the person who makes a difference in the life of a student.  The added benefit of having a permanent SRO is that the SRO can immediately assess a situation from an informed perspective, thereby ensuring faster resolution of issues that may arise. 

It’s a no-brainer that this will make the school safer for ALL those who attend.

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