The Senate held a hearing today for Gov. Rick Scott’s three proposed bills regarding school safety, firearm safety and public records as a part of his $450 million school safety plan.
Changes include increasing the minimum age for purchasing a firearm to 21 years old, implementing one resource officer for every 1,000 students in every public school by fall 2018 and requiring every public school to have a resource officer, Mr. Scott said.
Gainesville resident Yolanda Fluellen, 49, said she thinks the plan is a start, but it’s overdue.
“I think there needs to be much more stringent gun control implemented in order to ensure the level of safety for our children and grandchildren when they go to school,” Fluellen said.
Pat Polcaro, 76-year-old Fort Myers resident agrees with some of Scott’s plans but wants more, including more than one officer to every 1,000 students and a ban on automatic weapons.
“I have seen enough deaths with our school children. I never want that to happen to him,” Polcaro said about her great-grandson in her arms. “How many more kids have to die?”
In response to the proposed plan, Florida school districts have started to prepare for the new plan.
In Alachua County, all public schools already have a resource officer assigned to each, Director of Communications Jackie Johnson said.
“We are fortunate because we are a lot closer to those standards than other school districts,” Johnson said. However, she added they would have questions about how the governor would expect the plan to be implemented, including how it will be funded.
Putnam County Sheriff H.D. “Gator” DeLoach said that he fully supports the governor’s proposed plan and will be taking action to make monumental changes, including increased penalties for persons making threats, mandatory active shooter training and hiring about 14 additional deputy sheriffs to comply with Mr. Scott’s plan.
“Nothing is a bigger priority for the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office than the safety of our students and the sanctity of our places of education,” DeLoach said in a press release.
In Gilchrist County, the sheriff’s office’s immediate response to the plan is to hire another resource officer to add to the three total that service four schools, Captain Sheryl Brown said.
In addition, the department plans to secure another relief officer prepared to fill in when needed.
The positions weren’t budgeted for, but Brown said they will do whatever it takes to find the funding. In the meantime, the Florida Highway Patrol offered to assist in the schools to help keep the children safe.
“Our county just like other counties, small or large, will do what it takes to ensure the safety of our students and teachers to the best of our ability,” she said.