“When that madman walks onto the campus intent on killing our children, we are going to immediately engage him and shoot at him a lot,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
Judd’s Sentinel Program, which is designed to train and arm school staff members who volunteer to be special deputies, has this week expanded to cover Webber International University, a private college with about 800 students near Babson Park, Florida. Under the guidelines of the program, staffers will receive screening and extensive training from the Polk County Sheriff’s department which will allow them to carry guns on campus and respond to threats.
The 132-hour block of instruction will include more firearms training than typically given at state law enforcement academy, with over 1,000 rounds fired during the course. Teachers and faculty would likewise have to score 85 percent on qualifications, as opposed to the 80 percent for typical law academy students. Members of the Sentinel program will also receive more active shooter training than officers.
According to the WIU’s 2016 safety report, the campus, which has full-time security, saw only two documented criminal offenses that year, both drug-related. The school is the second in the county to enter the program, which was established by Judd in two years ago. The inspiration for the program comes from a U.S. Justice Department study that found that in 107 out of 160 active shooter incidents, the shooting was over before police arrived to engage the threat and that events typically lasted less than five minutes.
The subject of campus carry in Florida has been contentious with both concealed and open carry banned by law with exceptions in place only for law enforcement. Lawmakers have repeatedly attempted to pass legislation to allow some form of legal carry since 2010 but, despite a shooting on the campus of Florida State University four years ago, have been unsuccessful.
In the aftermath of a high-profile school shooting last week in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead, many have advocated stepping up campus security measures. Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight has announced a “quasi-school security program” to that put retired law enforcement and military veterans on school campuses in that Florida county while the Broward County Sheriff has armed qualified deputies at schools there with AR-15s. Law enforcement in other states are making similar recommendations.
Both President Trump and Vice President Pence have addressed their concerns on the matter, with the prospect of armed teachers floated.