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UCSO announces new school resource officer

Union County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jason Lepanto is the new school resource officer for the upcoming school year.

Union County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jason Lepanto is the new school resource officer for the upcoming school year.

The Union County Sheriff’s Office and the school board announce a new school resource officer for the upcoming school year. Deputy Sheriff Jason Lepanto started in that role toward the end of last school year and completed his criminal justice standards and training advance training courses over the summer.

Deputy Lepanto has worked for the sheriff’s office on patrol for nearly two years and during that time has concentrated his efforts on the safety of children, working numerous child abuse and child neglect cases throughout the county. Deputy Lepanto beat out over 50 applicants who applied for a position as deputy sheriff at Union County. He is married with two children: a 9-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter.

During his advanced training this summer, Deputy Lepanto learned topics that discussed school-related legal issues, communication, interviewing and counseling children, family dynamics, drug awareness and current trends throughout schools, physical abuse and neglect and identifying cases, as well as cyber crimes and Internet ploys. He was also required to pass a certification test at the end of training issued by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Deputy Lepanto, along with many members of the sheriff’s office, also received specialized training on the use of canines and the specific laws concerning drug enforcement in schools.

“School safety and crime prevention is a number one priority for our office. We stress this through advanced training for all our deputies when dealing with potential school violence and our response,” said Sheriff Jerry Whitehead. “The school resource officer position is a very important and essential position in our agency. He teaches courses throughout the year on cyberbullying as well as school safety and attends all after-hour school functions.”

Superintendent Carlton Faulk praised the school resource officer program and helps to financially support this necessary position on each school campus. Faulk and Whitehead both stated that they have seen great success with the program and the outstanding working relationship between the schools and law enforcement.

UCSO has been the only sheriff’s office in the state to earn the Shining Star Award for Outstanding Support of Education. The sheriff’s office has used the school in the past for training on departmentwide response to active shooter, stranger on campus and emergency preparedness situations, as well as teaching students about the effects and consequences of drunken driving, and recently campaigning against texting and driving.

UCSO is located in the Union County Courthouse at 55 W. Main St., Courthouse Room 102, in Lake Butler. Contact them at 386-496-2501 or sheriff@unionsheriff.us, or visit www.unionsheriff.us.

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