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Hall school board set to board on gun policy for security officer
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Andy Betancourt, Hall County Schools’ safety and security assistant, poses for a portrait outside the Hall County school district office in Gainesville on Wednesday. The Hall County school board will vote to decide whether Betancourt will be allowed to carry a handgun on school property and at the district office. - photo by David Barnes

Hall County Schools board meeting

When: 5 p.m. Monday

Where: 711 Green St., Gainesville

Hall County Schools may soon have an employee with the authority to carry a handgun in the district office and on school campuses.

At its meeting Monday night, the school board is scheduled to vote on a new policy designating Andy Betancourt, the district’s safety and security assistant, as the employee allowed to carry a weapon while working. Superintendent Will Schofield introduced the policy at a board meeting last month.

David Robles, safety and security coordinator for the school district and Betancourt’s immediate supervisor, said the policy is scheduled to be on the agenda for Monday’s school board meeting. Robles said the policy to be presented to the board would name Betancourt as the only employee designated to carry a weapon and would give Schofield the right to suspend or revoke that designation at any time.

“Mr. Schofield made it very clear that he wants to name Andy as that sole person for transparency,” Robles said. “It will be no secret that Andy does have the authority to carry that firearm.”

Betancourt, who began his job with the school district in October, served with the Miami Police Department from 1984 until his retirement in 2014. For 28 of those 30 years, he worked as a crime scene investigator, with responsibilities that included photography, evidence searches, processing for fingerprints, evidence collection and preservation and crime scene sketching.

It was also in this role that Betancourt was trained to carry a firearm and issued a service revolver. He said the law changed in the early 1990s to make all crime scene investigators unarmed. He began his work with the Miami Police Department as a public service aide and was later a traffic accident investigator until being promoted to CSI in 1986.

He said he “handled hundreds of weapons and had extensive training on the safe handling of firearms” and also had a Florida concealed carry permit while he lived there. He now holds a Georgia concealed carry permit.

Robles said Betancourt will have the weapon with him while working at the district office and while going to schools in the school district. He added that he expects Betancourt to visit schools more often.

“Unfortunately, the times we live in now, all you have to do is turn on the news every day and see that there is always some type of violence at the workplace or the school,” Betancourt said. “Hopefully, this will be a deterrent having a trained proactive security team in place to help protect the students and the staff. I think that will be a good thing.”

Schofield said state law allows school districts to designate employees who can carry weapons on school grounds, but added that he doesn’t see the policy expanding to other employees.

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