School Police Officer remained inside Boca area elementary instead of searching for “suspicious” vehicle.
BY: ANDREW COLTON | Editor and Publisher
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — Palm Beach County School Police Chief Frank Kitzerow has not responded to multiple requests for comment regarding the actions of his police officer assigned to Whispering Pines Elementary School in Boca Raton.
The officer, who we are not naming at this time, remained inside Thursday during morning “car line” and “drop off” as his department and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office were actively searching for a “suspicious vehicle” reported by a parent Wednesday evening. The parent said the vehicle was driven by a man using binoculars and was near the school campus.
The Palm Beach County School Police Officer is assigned to Whispering Pines Elementary School and, accoridng to law enforcement experts, should have been outside observing the hundreds of vehicles entering school grounds instead of attending a meeting in an administrator’s office.
Local school administrators determined such a threat existed that they initiated a “Code Yellow” curtailing some school activities. Principal Barbara Riemer ordered teachers at 7:40 a.m. via a public address announcement to let all students into their classrooms — roughly 20 minutes early — as a result of the threat. However, the school police officer as late as 8 a.m. was still nowhere to be found on the exterior of the school, as late arriving parents were still actively entering school grounds on foot and in cars.
“Simply incredible,” said one law enforcement expert familiar with the situation. “If they can’t handle a minor event like this, what happens when something major takes place? Suspicious vehicles do not tend to be found in an office.”
BocaNewsNow.com made several requests for information over two days to the Palm Beach County School District’s communications office which provides media relations for the school district’s police force. The school system, so far, has refused to release an incident report or specific details.
However, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office — which was asked to assist the school district police force — immediately provided BocaNewsNow.com with the report of the PBSO Deputy who made contact with the driver of the “suspicious” vehicle.
“I made contact with the individual in question,” wrote the Deputy in his report. “He stated he owns a handyman company and does lots of different types of jobs. He stated he was in the area and watching his workers with his binoculars to ensure they were completing the job and actively working. He was adamant that he was not watching the school.”
An unofficial timeline based on information provided by those familiar with the matter suggest that the “threat” was resolved shortly after the elementary school initiated a “Code Yellow,” yet the “Code Yellow” continued throughout much of the day. Parents were alerted via a robocall at 11:30 a.m. that there was a situation. The “all clear” call wasn’t received until 6 p.m.
The School District is not answering questions about why it took so long for that information to reach Whispering Pines administrators and ultimately parents. The Palm Beach County School District is also not answering questions about whether the officer in question followed policy and procedure.
The silence is uncharacteristic of Chief Kitzerow who is the highly regarded former police chief of the Jupiter Police Department.