The panel consisted of State Attorney Amira Fox, Cape Coral Police Department Chief Dave Newlan and Sheriff Marceno. In addition to answering questions posed by guests, Sheriff Marceno summarized his first year as Lee County Sheriff. From the onset, Sheriff Carmine Marceno indicated that he had formulated an agenda and was devoted to maneuvering resources in order to address several key issues...student and school safety, an assault on drug dealers operating in Lee County and a zero-tolerance for any types of abuse, referencing child, elder, and animal abuse. Marceno’s earliest statements, in 2018, referenced “school safety and quality of life issues in Lee County.” The sheriff worked closely with the Lee County School District and with his own Youth Services Division to ensure that each and every school had a minimum of one School Resource Officer. Marceno indicated that these SROs would be carefully vetted to ensure that they met his vision for the role.In addition to possessing the skills of a seasoned law enforcement officer, Marceno wanted mentors…role models with a parental-based mentality. “They must have the hardness required to safeguard their respective school,” Sheriff Marceno remarked. “But, also, the patience and understanding needed when working with children.”The sheriff’s “Safe Kids – Safe Schools” initiative aims to protect students “from the moment they leave their homes in the morning until they return in the afternoon. That includes walking to a bus stop, a safe ride on a school bus, total security in their school and a safe return home."The Lee County Sheriff’s Office has committed resources to patrolling school bus stops, strictly enforcing laws related to passing stopped school buses and placing Traffic Unit members in and around schools to monitor speeding and cell phone laws inside school zones. Marceno indicated that his Youth Services Division needed to fully investigate 173 school threats during the 2018-2019 school year and an additional 77 during the current school term. “They’re (the investigations) tedious and time-consuming,” remarked Sheriff Marceno. “But every threat will be thoroughly investigated…including visits to the home to determine if there is access to weapons.” Marceno has also added full-time K9s to the Youth Services Division to be used for conducting drug searches in the schools. All elementary and middle schools have Junior Cadet and Cadet programs, respectively. These programs are run by the SRO and designed to teach responsibility, build trust between children and law enforcement, instill a sense of community responsibility and much more. Fourth and fifth graders also learn skills such as flag etiquette. Deputy Donna McNally, SRO at Buckingham Exceptional School, works to build lasting relationships with the students. “Deputy Donna,” as she is called, was the recipient of the “Back the Blue Award” which was presented personally by Florida Attorney General, Ashley Moody, for her work in implementing a school food pantry. SRO McNally also won the “2019 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award” during the Law and Order Ball for her work and dedication to her school and the children who attend. “Over 94,000 students, over 6000 bus stops,” stated the sheriff. “It’s a large task with a lot of moving parts, but our Youth Services are second to none.” Sheriff Marceno addressed questions pertaining to drug use and sales within Lee County. The sheriff discussed the reallocation of resources so as to conduct undercover drug purchases and covert work in areas most affected by drug sales. His drug sweeps have netted an unprecedented number of arrests and have resulted in the seizure of significant amounts of drugs, cash and weapons. "An incredibly hard-working unit," Sheriff Marceno called his Narcotics Unit. "Their diligence and work ethic continue to amaze me." The sheriff was also insistent upon discussing abuse when asked about the recent cases of animal abuse/cruelty. Sheriff Marceno reminded the group of the story of "Deputy Chance" and how he has become the ambassador against all forms of abuse. Marceno pointed out that over 70 percent of victims of domestic violence have reported animal abuse in their homes. "The link between animal and human abuse can't be overlooked," said Marceno. "It's no coincidence." Sheriff Marceno completed his portion of the panel discussion by indicating that he will continue to find ways to make Lee County the safest and most wonderful location for residents and guests.