The back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton are a heart-breaking reminder that these incidents can happen anywhere. Our hearts and prayers are with the families, friends, and communities that are the latest to suffer from this epidemic plaguing our country. These shootings are a solemn reminder of why the Florida Chamber of Commerce created the Institute for a Safer Florida to identify ways to make our schools and workplaces safer. We won’t rest until solutions are discovered that can be implemented across Florida and beyond. For more information and to join the effort, visit us at https://saferfl.org .
April 16, 2019
By Zack Budryk, The Hill
Parents lack confidence that their children’s schools will be able to stop a gunman, according to new research from The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Researchers found only about a third of parents polled were extremely or very confident about their children’s safety in school, while 40 percent were moderately confident and about 2 in 10 said they have little to no confidence.
Most Americans don’t blame schools for shootings, according to the poll, though the parents of school-age children are more likely than other adults to blame shootings on the schools themselves.
Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they put little to no blame on schools. Just 9 percent said they believe schools shoulder a great deal of blame. Forty-nine percent of parents of school-age children put blame on schools, compared to 36 percent of other adults, according to the survey.
January 22, 2019
By Ocala Star Banner
The shooting in Parkland that took the lives of 14 students and three adults was preventable.
That is hardly news but it was confirmed in a 485-page report by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission.
The commission met over eight months; the panel included law enforcement, public officials and parents of murdered students. It will continue to meet until 2023 to provide further recommendations. Here were some of the mistakes that occurred:
• Some passive Broward County deputies waited while shots were fired. The shooter paused five times to reload, which means he could have been stopped by someone trained in combat. Clearly deputies need to be told that they should rush to confront a shooter.
• There was a shocking failure to act on tips about a possible shooting; the FBI, the Broward public schools and the Broward Sheriff’s Office all received warnings yet failed to follow up on them. One deputy received a warning in 2016 that Nikolas Cruz was going to shoot up the school, reported the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Another deputy received a 911 call from a woman concerned that Cruz had several guns, had threatened to kill himself and people at a school. Both deputies were disciplined but not fired.
• Lax school security.
The report contains many recommendations but the most controversial is sure to be a proposal to arm teachers. If trained sheriff’s deputies are slow to react, what sense is there in simply handing a gun to a teacher? Now, if a teacher is a military veteran, someone with law enforcement experience or an individual who has combat training, that’s another matter. But how many teachers are there who meet these prerequisites?
A more reasonable response is to increase spending on school security. The report recommends:
• More state funding.
• More flexibility for school districts in providing security.
• More freedom for school districts to raise taxes for security.
This is sure to be expensive: many older schools in Marion County, for example, were designed as open campuses with easy access. Still, in the long run prevention is a more feasible strategy than turning every school building into an armed camp.
Another reasonable suggestion is to require — rather than merely encourage — mental health providers to notify law enforcement if a patient threatens anyone (though, of course, all reports should be fully vetted).
Other notable recommendations:
• Schools should have safe areas and teachers should be able to quickly cover classroom door windows.
• All schools should have clear policies for declaring a “Code Red” crisis situation.
• All campus gates should be locked unless staffed.
• Schools should be required to report crime and safety incidents.
• Students’ mental health records should follow them from school to school.
• All Florida public schools should provide law enforcement with immediate access to security cameras.
• School resource officers should be more closely supervised — and they should focus on safety, not teaching or counseling.
The boomer generation grew up with nuclear attack drills, though an attack never occurred. This generation of students is growing up with the fear of an armed attack with a military-style weapon.
Sadly, it’s a legitimate fear that too many have lived through.
January 17, 2019
By Carey Codd, CBS Miami
FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie laid out a series of security upgrades to Broward County school campuses.
He also pushed back against critics who have questioned his job performance and the performance of this school district in the lead up to and the aftermath of the Parkland shooting.
Specifically, Runcie said on Thursday that the district is following the recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Safety Commission by allowing any staff member to call a code red, adding hard corners to classrooms and giving law enforcement live access to school security cameras.
He also said the district is 82% finished with installing single point of entry openings at schools. Runcie said there have been millions spent to upgrade security cameras across the school district and the district has created a new Office of School Safety.
One of the functions of that office will be to perform an annual audit of schools to make sure they are following security protocols.
“Since February 14, we’ve worked on nothing but security and safety in this district,” Runcie said.
Runcie also promised a renewed focus on safety and security to avoid some of the mistakes like unlocked gates that allowed confessed school shooter Nikolas Cruz onto the campus.
“We’re putting culture in of safety. Everyone needs to think of that relentlessly,” Runcie said. “All gates are locked during schools hours. When the gates are opened, there’s somebody there monitoring those gates.”
Lori Alhadeff is a school board member. She is also the mother of Marjory Stoneman Douglas murder victim Alyssa Alhadeff.
“As a school board member, I plan to hold him accountable,” Alhadeff said.
From her standpoint as a board member and mother of a victim, it’s painful to listen to the amount of failures that led to the MSD shooting.
“It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “Call a code red. Lock doors. Lock gates. You see someone with a rifle bag you take them out. As a school board member, I need to make sure this never happens again.”
Other Parkland parents, like Max Schachter, whose son Alex was murdered at MSD, say the school district has not shown a sense of urgency to put additional security measures in place.
“I would like to know why did it take them 11 months,” Schachter said. “We knew all this on February 15th. I’m pleased that they seem to be doing things that will improve the safety of our children. I wish they had acted a lot sooner.”
Runcie said the district must balance safety and security with its core mission of teaching and learning. Lori Alhadeff said security must be a priority.
“At the end of the day, test scores don’t matter if our kids don’t come home alive,” Runcie said.
At the news conference, Runcie defended his performance and said the district did not wait to do the security work. He responded to critics of his job performance, like Andrew Pollack, father of MSD victim, Meadow Pollack. Pollack has made clear that he wants Runcie to resign.
“I’m staying her focused on the work that needs to be done,” Runcie said.
Earlier this week, the school board approved an agreement with the Broward Sheriff’s Office which gives them access to real-time, live video feeds from school surveillance cameras.
Providing law enforcement with access to the real-time, live video surveillance feeds is among the recommendations made by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which released a report last year that featured school safety recommendations.
The commission also recommended teachers who volunteer and undergo training be allowed to carry guns.