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School Resource Deputy Program

The welfare of our youth will always be a top priority.

As the new school year approaches our community, your sheriff remains steadfastly committed
to the best practices that have protected our children, teachers, and staff on
our public school campuses.

As stipulated in Senate Bill 7026, it is vital that every public school campus in our
community and our state has a trained, experienced professional on every public
school campus each and everyday school is in session.

Our agency’s 33 years of excellence in our public schools is a testament to the
unmatched professionalism that these dedicated deputy sheriffs bring to their jobs
each and every day. There are none better!

Sheriff Mike Prendergast

In 2005, the Citrus County Sheriff's Office School Resource Deputy Unit received
national recognition as being a model SRD program. We take great pride in providing
innovative educational curriculum. A School Resource Deputy (SRD) is a law
enforcement officer who is assigned to either an elementary, middle, or high school.

The main goal of the SRD is to prevent juvenile delinquency by promoting positive
relations between youth and law enforcement. This program encompasses three major
components that allow the SRD to achieve this goal: law enforcement, education, and
counseling.

Each SRD is assigned to a specific school which allows the deputy to become familiar
with the school's internal atmosphere. SRDs also provide a variety of services and
benefits for the school community, to include:

  • A safe and secure learning environment.ae

  • A more efficient and effective response to emergencies, law enforcement
    investigations, and applicable arrests.

  • Classroom lessons concerning the law, personal choices/responsibilities, and
    other law-enforcement related topics.

  • A better opportunity to establish a positive relationship with the students in a non-
    confrontational setting. Allowing for the SRD to serve as a role model, resource
    and mentor to students that may need additional support.

From cyberbullying to drug education, school resource deputies are trained to teach
courses relevant to students. The SRD Unit teaches the following programs:

Elementary School

Middle School

High School

Our successful school resource deputy program is a collaborative effort by certified law
enforcement officers, educators, students, parents and the community to offer
educational programs in the schools and reduce crime, drug abuse and violence - all of
which contribute to a safe school environment.

There are currently 19 School Resource Deputies assigned to each elementary, middle
and high school in the Citrus County School District. This includes our alternative
school (Renaissance Center) and WTC. The program also has 3 supervisors who
divide the county and assist by providing additional coverage in the schools.

School Threats Are No Joke

In 2019, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice announced a new awareness
campaign aimed at addressing school threats made by students in Florida. The “It’s No
Joke” campaign aims to dissuade youth from making school threats because doing so
can lead to being arrested and charged with a felony.

Here at the Citrus County Sheriff's Office, we take any and all threats made to our
schools seriously. The safety of our students and school staff is our number one priority.
If you have information regarding a possible school threat, please call 9-1-1
immediately.


Child Lures

The Child Lures program is a 10-week program taught to 3rd graders by their
elementary School Resource Deputy. The curriculum reinforces the importance of
treating one another with kindness and respect, the foundation of all healthy
relationships. Abusers are usually someone known to the child, including family
members and peers. Students recall that crimes like bullying, harassment, and sexual
abuse are against the law and can be reported to a Trusted Adult; All Secrets Can Be
Told.

Students also learn how to recognize and evade the Child Lures commonly used to groom and abuse youngsters, online and offline. Using critical thinking skills, they practice avoidance and refusal strategies in class discussions and practice scenarios. The earlier we begin to teach children the basics of healthy social relationships and respecting self and others, the better able are we to stop the cycle of abuse, both by peers and adults. In doing so, we help keep children safe, healthy and ready to learn.

The most prevalent personal safety issues facing children today involve bullying and sexual exploitation, including web-enabled offenses. Fortunately, most of these crimes are preventable with awareness and education.

Think First & Stay Safe program provides developmentally appropriate instruction on:

  • Healthy and respectful relationships (family and social)

  • Setting, maintaining and respecting personal boundaries.

  • Developing and maintaining effective communication with trusted adults

  • Recognizing bullying and sexually offending behaviors & learning prevention strategies

  • Gaining awareness of available local and national resources (including for Youngsters having thoughts of abusing others)

  • Reporting any type of abuse or threat to a youngster's health and safety

  • Reducing the feelings of guilt and blame often experienced by children who are mistreated

If you have any questions or would like more information about the program, please contact Sgt. Jeff Hunter at (352) 697-2896.


Junior F.O.C.U.S.

After the Citrus County Sheriff's Office School Resource Deputy Program had designed and implemented the F.O.C.U.S. program for the 5th grade students of Citrus County, a longtime School Resource Deputy recognized the need for Citrus County’s youngest citizens to learn basic safety lessons so they could be even safer at home and in their neighborhoods.

The result was Junior F.O.C.U.S. (Filtering Out Crime United with Students), a program taught to all 1st grade students in Citrus County. This mini-program consists of six easy-to-follow safety lessons that can be taught at any time throughout the school year.

Youngsters learn about the proper safety procedures to follow when faced with situations involving the following items:

  1. the front door

  2. the telephone

  3. the kitchen

  4. if they find something

  5. how to respect each other

  6. how to be safe with people they don’t know

For instance, in the lesson entitled “The Kitchen", kids learn about the potential dangers located in the family kitchen. Students are taught to know which areas in the kitchen are most likely to harm them. Even though the kitchen may seem like a fun place, youngsters learn about the obvious and hidden dangers there, and what rules to follow.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about Junior F.O.C.U.S., please contact Sgt. Jeff Hunter at (352) 697- 2896.


F.O.C.U.S.

The acronym, F.O.C.U.S., stands for "Filtering Out Crime United
with Students". F.O.C.U.S. is taught to 5th graders by their elementary School
Resource Deputy that serves at their school. The F.O.C.U.S. program was created by
Deputies Kevin Purinton, Phil Gaffney, Scott Farmer, and Tim Langer of our School
Resource Deputy Program
. We felt that our drug and violence education program at the
Citrus County Sheriff's Office should be tailored to meet the needs of students in our
county, so this program was developed specifically for that purpose. We began using
this new drug and violence education program in August 2000. Some of the topics
that are covered include drug education, resolving conflicts, gang awareness, assertiveness,
peer pressure, consequences, self-esteem, and cyber safety.

F.O.C.U.S. is 10 weeks long and therefore is a little
shorter than the 17 week DARE program. This
allows for greater flexibility. With only about 18
weeks of school in each semester, it was hard to
accommodate all 17 weeks of DARE due to school
holidays, school testing, field trips, law enforcement
training days, and other unforeseen events such as
hurricane days.

Our mascot is Otis the Owl. We also use various "eyeball" related items to represent F.O.C.U.S. The eyeball stands for "FOCUSing" on crime. The F.O.C.U.S. t-shirt is given to each student who completes the F.O.C.U.S. program. Students also participate in a F.O.C.U.S. essay contest where they compose an essay detailing what they have learned in F.O.C.U.S. A winner from each class is chosen and receives an Otis the Owl F.O.C.U.S. medallion.

If you have any questions or would like more information about the program, please contact Sgt. Jeff Hunter at (352) 697-2896.


Know The Law

In a collaborative effort between the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, Citrus County School District, Citrus County Health Department and Partners for a Substance-Free Citrus, the School Resource Deputy program teaches “Know the Law” to all 7th grade students in Citrus County Schools. The idea behind this curriculum is that most students, age 12-14 years, do not understand the justice system and often do not know that some things they do could be law violations. Know the Law reviews the most common offenses often committed by a juvenile and explains the consequences of committing those acts. We hope that by providing the youth of our communities with accurate and real-life information, it will give them the tools they need to make informed decisions when it comes to their choices.

Some examples of lessons are:

  • Crimes Defined

  • Alcohol, Tobacco and Drug Offenses

  • Weapons, Firearms, Arson, and Crimes Against Persons

  • Property Crimes, Trespassing and Internet Crimes

If you have any questions regarding the Know the Law Program, please contact your School Resource Deputy at any of the following numbers:

Lecanto Middle: 746-2050 ext.4752
Crystal River Middle: 795-2116 ext.5219
Inverness Middle: 726-1471 ext.5525

Sgt. Jeff Hunter (352) 697-2896