Posted: February 21, 2018
By Michael Springer, WFTV.com
VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. —
In the wake of the Parkland school shooting, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood wants certain teachers to be secretly armed with concealed weapons.
“The day of waiting for Tallahassee or Washington, D.C., to protect our kids is not coming,” he said.
Chitwood provided more details on how this would work, saying it would be an extension of a program that’s been tested for the past year in Polk County.
“That’s the only way you’re going to stop these guys, because they’re going to kill themselves,” Chitwood said.
It would be modeled after the so-called Sentinel program. Candidates would become special deputies, who are screened and trained by officials with the sheriff’s office to stop any threat on campus.
The Volusia County school superintendent said that is a conversation that needs to be had with the community and the school board.
None of the five school board members returned requests for comment -- but parents in Ormond Beach had plenty to say.
“If they’re armed, teachers might not go into the school,” said Brianna Clark, a parent.
Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said Sunday he will take steps to bolster local school safety by training those who work there.
Jones posted to social media that his office will offer free conceal-and-carry classes to a limited number of teachers in Butler County. He also said training on how to react during school shootings would be provided.
He said the details would be coming soon online at the Butler County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.
Jones said Saturday he has “been saying this for years” as he tweeted a Fox News story that Polk County, Florida, Sheriff Grady Judd said it would be a “game changer” to allow some handpicked teachers to carry firearms in the classroom.
Jones, in a video posted Thursday, urged local schools to act now to improve school security in the wake of the mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school on Wednesday.
He said local schools should stop doing fire drills and allow armed former police and military veterans into buildings to help protect students.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel blasted politicians after a gunman killed 17 people at a Parkland, Florida, high school, saying that if gun laws don’t change, “you will not get re-elected in Broward County.”
According to the Huffington Post, while speaking at a vigil in Parkland for the victims of the shooting, Israel said, “If you’re an elected official, and you want to keep things the way they are ― if you want to keep gun laws as they are now ― you will not get re-elected in Broward County.”
The vigil was attended by thousands at an amphitheater that was lit by candles and had 17 4-foot angels – one for each of the victims who was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Last week, Israel called on lawmakers to allow law enforcement officers to involuntarily detain people who post questionable and disturbing content on social media.
“We need to have the power to take that person and bring them before mental health professionals at that particular time, involuntarily, and have them examined,” he said, the Huffington Post reported. “People are going to be rightfully concerned about their rights ― as am I. But what about these students? What about the rights of young kids who go to schools?”
He added that he wishes law enforcement officials could act “if they see something on social media, if they see graphic pictures of rifles and blood and gore and guns and bombs, if they see something, horrific language, if they see a person talking about ‘I want to grow up to be a serial killer.’”
Democrats in Congress are already calling for gun control while Republicans are saying that it’s too soon to talk about it.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said during a press conference Thursday that we need to think less about fighting “each other politically” in the wake of the shooting.
“This is one of those moments where we just need to step back and count our blessings,” he said Thursday at a news conference, according to CNN. “We need to think less about taking sides and fighting each other politically, and just pulling together. This House, and the whole country, stands with the Parkland community.”
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., tweeted that Congress should vote on measures to implement “universal background checks, a ban on military-style weapons and a prohibition of those on the terror watchlist from purchasing firearms.”
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, said Congress will have “another round” of this debate, but admitted that it’s hard to get any sort of gun legislation passed.
Sheriff Grady Judd in Polk County, Florida, went on the news Saturday to talk about the so-called “Sentinel Program” as a possible legislative response to mass shootings like the one that happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last week, that left 17 dead.
Judd called the program a “game changer” by arming select educators whose backgrounds have been vetted thoroughly, who have been psychologically evaluated and trained in weapons more intensely than law enforcement by state standards.
The sheriff argued that the solution is not something he wants, but it’s something that must happen.
“We have got to wake up, wake up and understand that we have to have … specially trained people that have concealed firearms that can run to the threat and protect our children,” he said.
“Do you know that there is gun control on every campus in Florida -- and, I would submit, across the United States -- that you can’t bring a gun on campus. And no one does, except the crazed person, the active shooter. There has to be a line of defense,” Judd said.
“There’s no absolutes in life, but I can tell you this: At least two coaches were killed standing in front of and trying to protect kids. Don’t you believe it would be a game-changer if they had a gun to defend the children?”
Students and parents have responded to the mass shooting perpetrated by Nikolas Cruz by calling for stricter guns laws in Florida.
Many participating in the #NeverAgain campaign seem to agree that they don’t want to arm teachers, but want “genuine, lasting change.”
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