meet cocoa police officers James Salley and Amanda Torello
ABOVE VIDEO: Meet new Brevard County School Resource officers James Salley and Amanda Torello of the Cocoa Police Department.
BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA, FLORIDA – As thousands of children return to school on Friday, two Cocoa police officers will begin new assignments as school resource officers. It is part of a state mandate to put a police officer or security specialist at every school.
Officer James Salley is assigned to Cocoa High School and Officer Amanda Torello is assigned to Endeavour Elementary School.
Officer Salley served with the U.S. Marine Corps as an infantryman and in Security Forces performing such duties as force protection for NATO bases in Europe.
He later served as a law enforcement officer for Prince Georges County, Maryland for 11 years where he spent eight years as a supervisor in the Domestic Violence Unit. He then spent three years with the Melbourne Police Department before coming to Cocoa in November 2017.
He is certified in crisis intervention interviews and interrogations, field training officer and law enforcement instructor. “My number one goal is to keep everyone safe,” Salley said. “That’s the number one goal. If I can keep everybody safe, then that is the majority of my mission.
ABOVE VIDEO: Officer Amanda Torello is assigned to Endeavour Elementary School.
But it is also about building relationships so the students, teachers, and staff know we are here to help.” Salley says Cocoa High School is “very prepared” for a critical incident, including the possibility of an active shooter. “For our school, I will go directly toward the threat,” Salley added.
Officer Amanda Torello has been with the Cocoa Police Department since April 2015. She is a trained crisis negotiator with the department’s Crisis Response Team and is also a traffic homicide investigator. She is assigned to Endeavour Elementary School. “My job is simple; to make sure every student, teacher and staff member who attends this school is safe,” Officer Torello said.
“I’ll be your child’s friend and I’ll be that support for school staff with helping mentor children and build good relationships so we can all be safe.”
Chief Mike Cantaloupe says the department and its 70 officers are committed to all the schools. “Our schools are very important to us and we will invest whatever time and resources are needed and available to make sure everyone is safe,” he said.
In 2018, the Florida Legislature passed the “Safe Schools” law mandating school districts partner with law enforcement to “establish or assign one or more safe-school officers at each school facility.”
The Cocoa Police Department is using every available resource to not only help the school district comply with the new mandate, but to ensure safety across all educational facilities within its jurisdiction.
“My message to the kids is I’m here for you,” said Officer Salley. “I’m here to protect you, I’m here to mentor you and I’ll do what I can to help you get to whatever goal it is that you want to get to.”
Schools that do not have an assigned police officer will be assigned a security specialist by the school board. Cocoa police officers will serve off-duty special details until the security specialists are in place.
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