'Our schools are targets,' Brevard sheriff, superintendent lay out school security plan

Sheriff Ivey asks school board to consider teacher marshal program

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

VIERA, Fla. - Following the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in which 17 people were killed Brevard County Schools superintendent Desmond Blackburn said it's time to realize "our schools are targets."

Blackburn and Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey officials discussed local school security Monday during a news conference following the mass shooting in Broward County on Feb. 14.

The Brevard County officials laid out a four-tiered plan that they said with the right political will, financial resources and expertise, will prevent more violence in public schools.

Ivey compared the plan to a bulletproof vest, saying that every layer is protection for students, teachers and staff.

[4 takeaways from Brevard County's school security plan]

Part one involved education and awareness, using active shooter drills, teacher and student training and encouraging students to use an app to "speak out" if they hear something.

Blackburn, who was in Tallahassee last week for an education workshop focused on school shooting prevention, said educators were asked for active shooter drills by a Broward County student, Stephen Marante, who spoke at the meeting.

Marante, who lives in Parkland, and serves as a student representative on the Broward County School Board. In addition to mandatory active shooter drills, he called for metal detectors and more school resource officers, one for every 1,000 students.

The second part, Ivey said, is already in progress. All Brevard County schools will have fencing and single points of entry, which is partially being funded by the 2014 half-cent sales tax.

Since the most recent shooting, Brevard County school officials said they are in the process of installing one video camera per school at the "single point of access" created by security fencing and gates. The goal is to be done in April. The cameras will deliver a live signal to the school and to district security in Viera.

Ivey was among the Florida sheriffs who attended a workshop last week in Tallahassee after the shooting in Parkland.

He called for the state funding to put a school resource officer in every Florida school, saying that sheriffs shouldn’t have to choose between about protecting schools or the rest of the community.

“We’ve been talking about options for a long time,” Ivey said. “I think it’s time to stop talking and put our money where our mouth is.”

On Monday, Blackburn and Ivey said this is an official part of their plan, that every school will have an officer on campus. Ivey said in the past year, seven new school resource officers and a K-9 have been placed in schools.

Finally, Ivey said he has asked the school board to consider the Sheriff Trained On-Site Marshal Program, or STOMP, which will recruit school faculty volunteers to become secret school marshals.

Ivey said that the school marshals would be vetted like Sheriff's Office deputies and recieve more than 132 hours of training. Teachers or faculty who volunteer for the program would not be compensated, but Ivey said "in a perfect world" there would be funding for that.

Blackburn said the school board will not take this consideration lightly.

"We’re at a place were we have to consider things we have never had to consider before," he said, adding that the school board will be looking for community input before any vote.

On Friday, Gov. Rick Scott and Florida Republican lawmakers announced gun and school legislation that they said would prevent more violence in Florida's schools.

Blackburn said it's time for political leaders to put their differences aside to keep everyone safe.

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