Florida Governor Outlines $500 Million School Safety Plan
The proposed plan includes the strengthening of gun purchase and possession restrictions and additional services for students suffering from mental health issues.
Florida Governor Rick Scott held a press conference on Tuesday at Miami-Dade Police Headquarters to unveil a nearly $500 million plan to improve school safety.
The announcement comes two weeks after a former student opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., killing 17 people.
Scott says a large focus of the proposed plan is the strengthening gun purchase and possession restrictions for the mentally ill, reports CBS Miami. The gunman had a lengthy history of mental health issues but was able to legally purchase the weapons he possessed.
“We need to pass reforms to make it virtually impossible for anyone who has a mental illness or a danger to themselves, ever to use a gun,” Scott said at the press conference.
It would also require anyone in the state wanting to purchase a firearm to be 21 or older and would ban the purchasing and selling of bump stocks, according to WZZM.
He says the plan would also focus on getting individuals with mental health issues the help they need and would place a threat assessment team in each school.
“I want to make sure we have increased presence with mental health counselors at our schools,” he said. “I want to make sure that every student has the opportunity to sit down with a mental health counselor and hopefully deal with any issues that they might be dealing with.”
This week, Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said the gunman refused to accept the school district’s mental health services once he turned 18 and that a federal law prohibited the school from requiring him to do so.
The proposed plan would also ensure a clear line of communication between schools and local law enforcement as well as child welfare agencies.
“We need to increase the collaboration between our local sheriff’s, our police departments, our schools, Department of Children and Families and DJJ,” said Scott.
Proposed Safety Plan Would Include Armed Officers at Each School
The increased security presence would include mandatory law enforcement officers in every public school in the state. Each officer would be a sworn sheriff’s deputy or a police officer and would be present during all hours students are on campus.
“On top of that, schools that are larger would have a bigger law enforcement presence,” Scott added.
The plan proposes at least one law enforcement officer for every 1,000 students and would ideally be implemented by the start of the 2018-2019 school year.
Scott said the proposed plan would not include arming teachers.
“I disagree with arming teachers,” he said. “You need law enforcement that is well trained. Let teachers focus on teaching.”
Scott also wants to have appointed professionals readily available to law enforcement to provide valuable information on a case-by-case basis.
“In all of our sheriff’s departments, I want to embed an employee from the Department of Children and Families to try to work better to coordinate any issues that they might be seeing around their community,” Scott said.
Additional security measures would include metal detectors, bulletproof glass, steel doors and upgraded locks.
“I also want to make sure we have an anonymous see something-say something statewide dedicated hotline, website and mobile app,” he added.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi also spoke at the press conference, indicating the state would reach out to students to help name and design the logo for the dedicated tip line.
Before moving forward with the plan, Scott says it has to be something that everyone involved feels is doable.
“I want to make sure all these things are signed off by all our sheriff’s departments across the state,” Scott said.
When asked if the state would have to shift funding to implement his plan, Scott said the state is operating on a surplus.
“We have to get this done. We have the resources to do it. I walked into a situation with over $3 billion projected revenue over current expenses, and since then, projected revenues have gone up, not gone down. We have a strong economy. We have to invest in our schools.”
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