Sheriff Knight Inducts School Safety Personnel

NEWS RELEASE 18-137
Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight during two ceremonies today inducted 12 deputies and presented certificates to 11 school guardians who volunteered to provide security on their campuses for the upcoming school year.    
 
Following the tragic events that occurred in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018, Sheriff Knight and staff prioritized the urgent need for enhanced campus security by providing sheriff’s office deputies on elementary campuses throughout unincorporated Sarasota County. These deputies were in addition to the school resource deputies already staffing middle and high schools.
 
As lawmakers implemented the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, Sheriff Knight and staff worked quickly to develop solutions for Sarasota County schools to ensure security needs were met in accordance with the new Florida law. The sheriff’s office offered Sarasota County public and charter schools the option to (a) take part in the agency’s existing school resource program, (b) adopt a similar version of the program utilizing school safety deputies whose sole responsibility is campus security or (c) enlist voluntary non-instructional school employees in guardian training designed by the sheriff’s office that models the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program.
 
On Thursday, 12 school safety deputies were sworn in by Sheriff Knight. These deputies will staff varying elementary and charter school campuses. They are sworn law enforcement members whose sole responsibility is campus security. Also recognized were the 11 school guardians who voluntarily took part in a 144-hour course offered by the sheriff’s office. The course included firearms training, crisis intervention training and active shooter scenarios. These men and women are school employees who work in non-instructional capacities. For the integrity of the program as well as their personal safety, their images are not shown.
 
By combining the agency’s existing school resource program, new school safety deputies, volunteer guardians and deputies taken from other parts of the agency, the sheriff’s office ensures parents that 28 campuses in unincorporated Sarasota County will be protected by the first day of school on Monday, August 13.
 
“Today was a remarkable day not just for these inductees, but for the parents and children of this community,” said Sheriff Knight. “It takes courage to go into this line of work as a school safety deputy given recent events and it takes selflessness to voluntarily become a school guardian. I continue to be impressed by the men and women we employ here at the sheriff’s office and by the community we are lucky enough to have supporting us in these efforts. As we move into the upcoming school year, parents should feel a sense of ease and level of comfort with the complete school safety package we are providing. The sheriff’s office will continue to support the parents, teachers, students and school district,who now more than ever need and deserve our protection.”

The following deputies were ceremoniously sworn in today by Sheriff Knight:

  • School Safety Deputy Teodoro Perez, Jr. joined the sheriff’s office in 2014 and has worked in both the corrections and law enforcement divisions. Perez formerly worked for Hillsborough Community College as a Public Safety Officer for eight years. Deputy Perez will provide campus security at Brentwood Elementary.
  • School Safety Deputy Stephen Campion, a former Sarasota Police Department officer, joined the sheriff’s office in 2017. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Florida State University. Deputy Campion will provide campus security at Philippi Shores Elementary.
  • School Safety Deputy Shana Mikelait joined the sheriff’s office in 2014 after serving 12 years at the Transportation Security Administration. Mikelait, an Army veteran, earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida. Deputy Mikelait will provide campus security at Gocio Elementary.
  • School Safety Deputy Scott Ortner is a 31-year sheriff’s office veteran who retired at the rank of lieutenant in 2017. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Rowan University. Deputy Ortner will provide campus security at Taylor Ranch Elementary.
  • School Safety Deputy Jeffrey McCroskey, a former Sarasota Police Department officer of 25 years, is a veteran of the U.S. Army. He also worked for the Myrtle Beach Police Department for two years. He will provide campus security at Ashton Elementary.
  • School Safety Deputy Wade McVay served with the Sarasota Police Department for 29 years and retired at the rank of captain. He also worked for the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport Police and earned his bachelor’s degree from Western Carolina University. Deputy McVay will provide campus security on the Sarasota Military Academy high school campus.
  • School Safety Deputy Laura Markey worked for the Sarasota Police Department for eight years. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida. Deputy Markey will provide campus security on the Sarasota Military Academy middle school campus.
  • School Safety Deputy Todd Lucas started his career with the sheriff’s office in 1986 as a corrections deputy before joining the Venice Police Department where he spent 26 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida. Deputy Lucas will provide school security at Tatum Ridge Elementary.
  • School Safety Deputy Michael Celius, a former Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputy, earned his master’s degree in science from Southern New Hampshire University. He will provide campus security at Fruitville Elementary.
  • School Safety Deputy Peter Ballentine worked for the New York City Police Department for 22 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Deputy Ballentine will provide campus security at SKY Academy in Venice.  
  • School Safety Deputy Caswell Coley worked for the Punta Gorda Police Department and New College Police Department. He has eight years of previous law enforcement experience and will be providing campus security at Englewood Elementary.
  • School Safety Deputy Nicholas Laterza joins the sheriff’s office after serving two years working for the Sarasota Memorial Hospital Department of Public Safety. Deputy Laterza will provide campus security at SKY Academy in Englewood.

Over the next several weeks, the sheriff’s office will introduce school resource deputies and school safety deputies to the community through social media. Photos and videos will include each deputy’s name, their assigned campus and contact information. To follow along, use the hashtag #SCSOBack2School2018.