Schools to get arrest reports

MANATEE — As former Lakewood Ranch High School quarterback Tim Brooks prepares to fight murder and robbery charges in court, school officials say his legacy as a student-athlete will be an agreement between the district and law enforcement for stricter oversight of students’ felony arrests.

Prosecutors obtained a first-degree murder indictment against Brooks in the shooting death of 19-year-old William White Jr. on July 13, 2008. He has pleaded not guilty.

Brooks’ arrest and revelations about his criminal record prior to White’s killing have led to an interagency agreement between the Manatee County school district and all of Manatee’s law enforcement agencies.

When Manatee County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested Brooks in White’s shooting death last summer, a Bradenton Herald investigation revealed Brooks remained on the Lakewood Ranch football team to play his junior season after being arrested on a felony weapons charge.

In a second fatal shooting involving Manatee students, a Bradenton Herald investigation revealed murder suspect Marquis Sanders also played football on a district team after felony arrests. Sanders was arrested in February on a murder charge in the shooting death of a woman in her home during a botched home invasion robbery.

“This really goes back to the Brooks case, when we realized we needed better communication with law enforcement,” school district spokeswoman Margi Nanney said of the agreement.

The agreement officially outlines the procedure under which law enforcement and jail booking officers will inform the school district of any arrests of students on felony charges or violent crimes. An e-mail or fax of a student’s arrest reports will be sent to the school district through secure lines each day.

School district officials can also request access to law enforcement databases should more information on a student’s arrest or background be needed.

On Monday, the Manatee school board officially signed off on the agreement, and law enforcement officials are expected to follow by officially signing the pact, according to Nanney.

After Brooks’ arrest, law enforcement agencies immediately agreed to begin sending student arrest reports in a more timely manner even before the interagency agreement. But the school board’s action solidified the effort, Nanney said.

“Once we recognized the problem, we started doing this, but this just made it official,” she said.

The interagency agreement not only outlines the procedure for law enforcement to report student arrests, but all district employees as well. The agreement calls for law enforcement to report employee felony arrests, as well as all sex crime arrests, to the district in the same fashion as for students.

Manatee Sheriff Brad Steube said deputies have been notifying the school board of students’ arrests for months now under the new plan.

“I think we have a great thing in place to accomplish something that we know we need,” Steube said.

Related stories from Bradenton Herald