BRADENTON -- "The chief has asked us to look at every school in Bradenton."
With those words, Sgt. James Wilkinson, the SWAT commander for the Bradenton Police Department, on Monday explained his back-to-school security assignment starting Tuesday.
Wilkinson and two colleagues have been asked by Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski to investigate security at schools following the deadly shootings Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Wilkinson said.
Wilkinson, Master Patrol Officer Fredy Ordonez and Crime Prevention Officer Scottie Camacho will form a School Security Survey Task Force and will investigate about a dozen schools within Bradenton's city limits, Wilkinson said.
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Along with the task force, increased patrols of elementary schools will continue, said Bradenton Police Department Captain Warren Merriman.
Wilkinson and his team over the coming weeks will make unannounced visits to Miller, Wakeland, Manatee, G.D. Rogers, Ballard and Seabreeze elementary schools, as well as Sugg Middle School and Manatee High School, Merriman said.
The team will also visit Bradenton Christian School, St. Stephen'ss Episcopal School and other private and charter schools within the city, Wilkinson said.
"This is a project," Merriman said when asked how long each visit will be. "This is long term."
"Basically, we will be showing up at every school in Bradenton and checking on its security with the goal of strengthening it," Wilkinson said. "They won't know we are coming. We will be seeing if doors and windows are open. We will be checking everything."
"The goal will be to make this a positive thing," Ordonez said.
The team will meet many times with school officials after the unannounced visits and will go over a packet of school security information produced by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Merriman said.