Photo by Johnny Jackson
Clarence E. Cox III is the new director of safety and security for Clayton County Public Schools. The 30-plus year law enforcement veteran began working for Superintendent Luvenia Jackson (r) and the school board two weeks ago.
JONESBORO — Clarence E. Cox III is the new director of safety and security for Clayton County Public Schools.
His office is still an empty shell. Two large trash bags sit in the corner protecting the contents from dust. A few papers are shuffled about on his desk — grant proposals and brochures about law enforcement training opportunities.
Cox, 51, has been on the job for two weeks.
He joins the district with more than 30 years law enforcement experience.
“I’ve led before in this capacity,” said Cox. “The key element to any of this is communication.”
He said he has been in touch with local jurisdictions.
Cox is a familiar face for many in local law enforcement. He began his career with the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office in 1981 and has worked in that capacity throughout metro Atlanta ever since.
Superintendent Luvenia Jackson credited his range of experience as qualities becoming of the district’s first safety and security director. He will lead a police department that is expected to grow annually over the next few years.
His experience includes work as an assistant police chief at Morehouse College and a U.S. Drug Enforcement Task Force agent with the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office. He has worked with the District Attorney’s Office in Fulton County and the Homeland Security Task Force.
Cox has been working on the new department’s $2.7 million budget, which includes non-sworn security officers, sworn school resource officers and department vehicles. The department was about to purchase five vehicles this year.
This year’s budget is a starting point.
He plans to pursue grant funding to help offset costs for personnel, equipment and training. He said his goal is also to gain state and national accreditation within the next two years.
Jackson said the district will maintain the same level of security presence at its schools as it has in the past and expects to increase those levels as the need dictates.
The need for a safety and security department arose in March, when school officials noticed law enforcement presence had been reduced under the direction of Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill who returned to office in January.
Hill announced that his deputies would no longer be involved in the school resource officers program with the district. Jackson said she immediately began her search for a director.
“It’s been challenging creating a department and learning regulations from a state and federal perspective,” she said. “The key position was the director. We had to make sure this was an immediate priority.”
Jackson said keeping students safe at school is a community effort.
“Please send your children to school on time, every day and know that they are as safe as they would be in any other school district in the nation,” she said.
The district is accepting application for qualified and certified officers to join the department’s school resource officer program.
Cox promised those interviewing for positions will undergo background check and will be vetted for any disciplinary actions against them. Applicants can apply at www.clayton.k12.ga.us.