Florida School Hires Former Combat Veterans To Tackle Mass Shootings
Manatee School for the Arts in Palmetto becomes first to have armed guards
Manatee School for the Arts in Palmetto, Florida is set to have two former combat veterans each carrying 9-millimeter Glock handgun and a semiautomatic rifle patrolling its grounds by the end of February.
Former infantryman army veteran, 39-year-old Harold Verdecia, who completed tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, patrols the hallways of Manatee the Herald-Tribune reports.
"We’re not looking for a fair fight," Jones said in an interview cited by the New York Times.
"We’re looking at an overwhelming advantage."
"When seconds count, (Palmetto police) are only a few minutes away," says Principal Jones
Manatee School for the Arts is the only school in Manatee County that chose to hire guards who carry rifles, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Department.
“It’s just a much more effective weapon than the handgun is,” Dr. Jones said.
Mr.dorn said he wasn't aware that any other school guards who carry long guns in the US.
“It’s not something that we typically advise our clients to do for a variety of reasons,” he added.
The bill, named after the school where the Parkland shooting occurred - the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act - will give schools the option to choose between a school resource officer, a school safety officer, or a school guardian, who is trained to [rvent lethal attacks.
Nine of the state’s 67 countywide school districts are increasing officers by employing full-time guardians, according to an Associated Press survey.
“We have guardians in almost all of our elementary schools and most of our charter schools,” said Michael Barber, a spokesman for the School District of Manatee County.
According to the NYTimes: Manatee School for the Arts hired one guardian with 15 years of infantry experience which has now been on campus for a couple of months, Dr. Jones said.
A second guardian, also a combat veteran, is finishing his training and will begin working later this month, he added.
Guardians are expected to complete at least 132 hours of firearm safety and proficiency training.
Dr. Jones said the school hired combat veterans because he wanted guards who wouldn’t hesitate to go after an active shooter.
“I don’t want this to be the first time they’ve had someone shooting at them,” he said.
So far, Dr. Jones said, “most parents have been very accepting.”
To assuage safety matters about the high-powered weapons, the school requires its guardians to keep the chambers of their Kel-Tec RDB semiautomatic rifles empty, and the guns are not put on campus.
The appearance of an armed guard doesn’t necessarily deter violence.
During the shooting last February that left 17 in Parkland dead, there was an armed school resource officer standing by the door to the building which was later widely criticized for not entering.
And in 2016, a teacher in Michigan was grazed in the neck by a bullet when a school resource officer negligently fired his gun.
And in some cases, disturbed students have grabbed officers’ guns, even while the guns were in holsters.
Dr. Jones estimated that the total cost of the new security measures would be close to $200,000 for the 2018-19 school year, and said the armed guards would earn a yearly salary of about $50,000.
It “substantially exceeds” the money received from the state, he added.
Despite the heightened fear over school shootings, active shooters are statistically rare.
Unintentional injury, such as traffic accidents and drowning, is the leading cause of death for American school-age children.
“Our mindset is so locked into the rare but truly catastrophic active-shooter event,” Mr. Dorn said.
On school property, students and school employees are more likely to die by suicide than a mass shooting, he added.