Florida sheriffs want to bolster School Guardian Program following Texas mass shooting

The tragedy at Robb Elementary school in Ulvade, Texas is having law enforcement across the country take another look at their safety measures.  

In Florida, the 2018 Parkland School Shooting led to the creation of two new initiatives, the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, and the "red flag" laws. Now, four years later, two sheriffs don’t want to see the support for those safety measures wane.

The "red flag" law allows for a judge to order potentially dangerous people to turn over their guns.  

"If you read the people we take before the courts with these red flag laws you’d be amazed," said Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood. The law requires a judge to rule on a person to turn over their weapons if the prosecutor can prove the person is a threat to themselves or others. 

"We would take their driver’s license from them," said Chitwood. "We would not allow these people to drive, so why in God’s name should we allow them to have a firearm?"

Sheriff Chitwood hopes the state continues to support laws like this and the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program – a program he said needs more funding to continue its success. "I think that there should be a wake-up call for a legislature to say hey maybe we need to revisit the monies that were cut from the guardians," said Chitwood.

Volusia County Schools say they have 105 school resource officers, or "guardians," across their schools. In Brevard County, every one of their schools also has at least one.  

"We went from having seven or eight school resource deputies to now we have 40-plus, post-Parkland," said Sheriff Wayne Ivey. 

Sheriff Ivey said all of their Guardians are veteran deputies given 176 hours of training before being placed in a school. He would like to get at least a second guardian on some of their larger high school campuses.  "Our security specialists are literally lifesavers," said Ivey. "They are working for those schools and love those kids just as much as they love their own. They are there to put their lives on the line and make sure not just a critical incident like what happened yesterday in Texas doesn’t happen but also make sure security measures are being followed." 

Ivey said he would also like to see more faculty be certified as a part of the guardian program to carry in school. He believes this will make the school a harder target and increase response times to stop a threat.