School and student safety is being taken not only seriously on one Florida school campus but is being ratcheted up to the next level as well. Manatee School for the Arts in Palmetto, Florida has recently hired not one but two former combat trained veterans, to comply with the new state legislation requiring that all schools within Florida have at least one of what is being referred to as a "safe-school" officer.
The veterans hired for the Manatee School will also come armed with a semi-automatic rifle to aid in their duties of guarding the school campus against potential threats. The school's principal, Bill Jones, recently stated that the school has excellent reasons to not only meet the minimum requirements laid out but to go well above and beyond them as well.
In a comment referencing the possibility of an active shooter situation, Jones said: "We're not looking for a fair fight. We're looking at an overwhelming advantage."
Of the two veteran’s hired, one has a reported 15 years of infantry experience. The other veteran had just assumed his assigned guard duties later in February. When looking to hire the necessary personnel, Jones looked explicitly for those who were veterans with combat experience, who he felt would be able to both react quickly and correctly when placed under fire. Jones noted: "I wouldn't hire anybody who hadn't been shot at and fired back. I need someone who has been in that situation."
One detail of the hiring of the veterans is the fact they will be carrying semi-automatic weapons. Many are not supportive or comfortable with the type of weapons in question. However, the Palmetto police chief has stated he fully supports their use.
When explaining the reason for his support, the police chief, Chief Scott Tyler, brings up the point that most actual shootings in schools involve assault rifles. With this logic, it would only stand to reason that guards need to have arms that are comparable or even outmatch those of the shooters.
The guards had to attend a minimum of 132 hours of mandatory proficiency training as well as firearm safety, which was administered by the Manatee County Sheriff's Department, according to Jones. It is also worth noting that no weapons are being stored on the school campus, and when patrolling the guards must keep the guns unchambered.
So, what’s the verdict—you decide.
Do veterans with semi-automatic weapons need to be deployed in each school in the nation? Is this what it takes to know our children are being kept safe?