A mass shooting at a school in Florida has some local school districts scrambling to test their response abilities. And at least one South Bay school says it could use more officers on campus.
Incidentally, Overfelt High School in San Jose held a drill on responding to a school shooter just before the Florida shooting occurred Wednesday. Officials at the school say they have the money to hire a police officer every day of the week. They just aren't getting many takers.
Principal Vito Chiala lowered the school flags to half-staff in honor of those killed in the Florida shooting. And on a day like this, the principal wishes he had an officer on campus.
"When we have officers on campus every day, it builds relationships," Chiala said. "We’re able to prevent things from happening."
Chiala said the school can afford an officer every day at roughly $55 an hour. But San Jose police officers can earn a lot more working overtime for the department, which continually needs shifts filled because staffing remains lower than normal. Ultimately, not enough off-duty cops are signing up to work the schools.
"We want our kids safe at our schools; we want our officers there," Capt. Mike Kihmm said. "It is an off-duty option for them, and we get it."
The good news is more recruits are signing up to join the San Jose force. This week, another academy of 57 cadets began training. Rebuilding the department will take more time, meaning for now Overfelt High will remain without a cop on campus three days a week.
Chiala took to the intercom Thursday to put his students at ease.
"I’m sure you are all in shock when you heard what happened at the Florida high school," he said. "Believe in each other, be there for each other and the community. Go Royals."