By: Councilman Scott Singer Special to the Boca Newspaper
Like everyone, the City of Boca Raton has been even more focused on safety for our schools and children since the tragic murders of innocents in Parkland. As a city government, we are preempted by state and federal law on any direct or indirect regulations on guns, but whatever we can do within our power, we’ve been doing. Here’s an update on the further steps taken by the City of Boca Raton in recent weeks.
Boca Raton is committed to making sure our schools are safe, and the City of Boca Raton Police Department has increased its efforts and presence since Parkland. Here’s what the city and I have done:
Increased Police Patrols: Our police have been stepping up with extra officers and efforts until the school district and state come up with more permanent solutions. Safety is the first function of government, and I’m committed to using our professionals and resources to enhance school safety. Your City Council is united on this front.
Communications: I’ve spoken with city and school district officials about the needs for improved communications with residents and parents. They are responding to this need. There have been increased rumors and leads to be investigated. Please know our officers are on it, even if they can’t comment as much as they’d like. I urged them to say more to provide reassurance as much as they can.
Working With Other Governments: I’ve lobbied state and local officials for more resources, police personnel, and funding to be put in, and thankfully, they are responding. School district police have stepped up their presence, along with Boca P.D. That will continue. The City Council voted unanimously to ask the federal and state governments to immediately increase funding for police, school security improvements, mental health treatment, more sensible gun regulations, and better threat training. Our hands are limited in those areas, but we’re focusing on immediate safety measures.
Police Input: Our police department has been working well with schools and other entities to assess and reduce threats and better prepare us. Boca P.D. holds active shooter drills and trainings for those who request it, and those are continuing.
Recently, the legislature and Gov. Rick Scott found consensus on $450 million for school safety improvements, and the school district’s first two additional officers in the county were both in Boca Raton. As discussed above, we will continue to augment the district’s efforts with additional officers. I’ve also had many discussions with parent groups and the school district about additional eyes and ears for our school campuses and events.
Public safety is an issue than transcends our schools. The importance of this issue – and recruiting and retaining the best public safety personnel — is why the City Council held a special meeting on March 7 to approve a new police contract. Negotiations on this three-year deal were in progress for months before the Parkland tragedy, and concluded in a pay raise to make our department one of the most competitive in the country in attracting new officers. Our pay scale will enable us to retain some of the most rigorous standards around and choose the cream of the crop of police academy graduates. We held the special meeting to avoid a delay of even a few weeks to get the more competitive package out into the marketplace.
One final note on public safety – our police officers have had successes recently in tracking down several gangs of car thieves. You can make their job easier by locking your car doors, taking the key fob with you, and not leaving valuables like purses, wallets, and phones in plain sight. Incredibly, nearly half of all car burglaries are from unlocked cars. Please lock your car doors – if everyone did, we cut car thefts and burglaries in half! For more safety news, or anything else, please stay in touch on social media at @ScottSingerUSA or email me with your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.