Richard Charbonneau – Republican candidate for County Commission District 14 – announced through a press release email that The Charbonneau Family Foundation has established a scholarship for public school teachers that wish to go to “Basic Law Enforcement Academy” located at the Eastern Florida State College Melbourne campus.
He said, “There is no Florida statute preventing a fully badged officer from being a teacher and a reserve officer at the same time. There is the Florida statute that prohibits anyone from carrying a weapon in a school, but the exception is any fully badged officer.
“The City of Melbourne, City of Palm Bay and the Brevard Sheriff all have reserve officer programs where a FDLE certified officer can be employed as a reserve officer with the same powers as a full time officer. The intent, which has not been approved, is for the schools to have at least one reserve officer in every school.
“Presently there is no plan and near zero security. Anyone can enter (schools) unchallenged. Getting officers certified is not a challenge at all, getting the school board to accept the idea is the challenge. My belief is that there could be a county ordinance that allows teachers to be officer/teachers.”
Michelle Irwin, Brevard Public Schools Director of District Communications said, “Currently Board policy and hiring practices would not align with this recommendation. The Board consistently reviews best practices in education and student safety and will continue to make its decisions based on what is best for both the students and staff of Brevard County.”
As well, Sheriff Wayne Ivey stated, "Conceptually speaking, the idea lends merit in helping to discuss an issue we all share great concern over. While the idea is designed to help protect our most precious citizens, the level of commitment and time required to successfully become a Reserve Deputy goes well beyond Law Enforcement Academy attendance and would most likely work against the suggested solution.”
Officials at Eastern Florida had no comment regarding this scholarship as it will not be administered through their foundation.
Charbonneau said that he will be on the scholarship select committee along with a pastor, a psychologist, a retired Brevard County Sheriff Office deputy, a retired Satellite Beach police officer and a retired New York police officer. Applicants will be subject to a criminal and credit background checks plus psychological testing to qualify for the scholarship.
The foundation is registered as a Florida non-profit organization.
Ivey added, “Our teachers are absolutely incredible and are always willing to do everything they can to help protect a child, however, the additional commitment of a year to conclude a 760 hour Academy, State Certification, 640 hour Field Training program and background process is an incredible impact to both the employees and associated agencies.
“Our Reserve Deputy program is a total success and is comprised of many outstanding members of our community, each who has and continues to volunteer thousands of hours to protect our communities. Our program is designed to limit liability and ensure safety, with our volunteers being provided training and equipment to perform law enforcement duties with the same lawful authority of a Deputy Sheriff.
“While there are many concepts being circulated in an effort to protect our children on school campuses, it is extremely important for all of our citizens to remain vigilant and observant, reporting any suspicious activity that could potentially harm our children and educators."
In addition, Charbonneau has also said that he will only accept a $1.00 salary if elected to the county commission. He will either give the remainder of the $58,000 salary back to the county coffers or donate it to a local charity.
For more information on the scholarship, teachers should contact Richard Charbonneau at Richard.firstname.lastname@example.org.