June 28, 2024

First Responders: Tim O’Brien

1.7 min read| Published On: June 28th, 2024|

By Christine Andola

First Responders: Tim O’Brien

1.7 min read| Published On: June 28th, 2024|

Experienced lieutenant protects Lake County Schools through leadership and training initiatives.

Lt. Tim O’Brien applies his 18 years of law enforcement experience every day as commander of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) School Resource Unit. Although his duties are largely administrative, decisions he makes affect approximately 50,000 students in the Lake County School District.

Training is one of Lt. O’Brien’s top priorities and he helped develop a countywide training program for resource officers.

“I want every officer in my command to have the benefit of solid training to fall back on when he or she faces a high-pressure situation and has to make a split-second decision,” Lt. O’Brien says.

The importance of training became evident twice when he was on road patrol and had to make split-second decisions to fire his service firearm in kill-or-be-killed scenarios. Lt. O’Brien was cleared in both incidents after mandatory investigations by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and reviews by the State Attorney’s Office. In his current role, Lt. O’Brien has implemented training covering everything from a solo response to an active shooter.

School resource officers also receive autism training so they can recognize, interact and potentially deescalate a situation involving an autistic student. Baker Act incidents have decreased significantly since implementation.

Equally significant is how Lt. O’Brien’s team uses the Work in Lieu of Arrest (WILA), which carries tough consequences for bad behavior instead of processing juvenile offenders through traditional channels, a huge benefit because upon completion, there’s no criminal record. WILA citations jumped from 44 in the 2022-’23 school year to 104 in 2023-’24.

“Many times, these kids need to learn a lesson but maybe not one that follows them for the rest of their life,” he adds. 

Meanwhile, Lt. O’Brien is always looking out for his officers.

“Our core group of supervisors work together every day to make sure schools are safe and deputies have everything they need to complete their jobs,” he says.

That commitment to safety led the LCSO to become the first agency in the state to provide emergency medical response (EMR) courses to school resource officers.

Additionally, all staff members carry a Centegix alert system device that allows them to call for help immediately from anywhere on campus. Centegix alert locates the alarm on a map to guide help to the emergency.

The sheriff’s office is also partnering with Fusus to get real-time access to school board cameras in and around campuses.

“We will have the advantage of locating a threat, either before it becomes a tragedy or while we can still limit the damage,” Lt. O’Brien says.

Leave A Comment

About the Author: Christine Andola

With a bachelor’s degree in communication from the State University of New York, College at New Paltz, in 1990 Christine embarked on a blind journey to building a career. She moved through teaching in the inner city public schools, reporting for a weekly newspaper, writing user manuals and technical documentation at a software company, lobbying and public relations at the state level for national associations and marketing for professional services firms.

Christine’s writing portfolio includes everything from newspapers to grant proposals. She has developed web content, written blogs, ghost-written professional journal articles and drafted ad copy. From technical writing to lifestyle feature pieces, Christine lives by the value of words. She enjoys learning about the people around her and sharing information in a way that resonates with readers.

Share This Story!

Never miss an issue,  Sign up for the Style Newletter!