Scott’s Plan Not New To Alachua County Sheriff

Florida Governor Rick Scott leaves the room after his school safety proposal press conference at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla., Feb 23, 2018. Scott proposed banning the sale of firearms to anyone younger than 21 as part of a plan to prevent gun violence. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)

Gov. Rick Scott announced today his three-part plan to keep children safe at school, including gun access, school safety and mental health.

The governor opened the morning press conference by listing the names of the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that occurred in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14.

Scott acknowledged that none of the plans he is announcing will bring the victims back, but he is adamant about ensuring there will never be another event like the Parkland shooting in the state of Florida.

His plan has three categories: gun laws, school safety and mental health.

Keep guns away from dangerous and violent people.

  • Create the “Violent Threat Restraining Order” so violent and mentally ill people cannot have access to guns
  • Prohibit a person from possessing or purchasing a firearm if subject to injunction for protection against stalking, cyberstalking, or dating, sexual, domestic or repeat violence.
  • Require all individuals purchasing firearms to be 21 years of age or older, rather than 18.
  • Establish enhanced criminal penalties for threats to school.
  • Ban purchase or sale of bump stocks.

$450 million proposal to keep students safe.

  • Mandatory school resource officers in every public school.
  • One SRO for every 1,000 students.
  • Require mandatory active shooter training as outlined by the Department of Homeland Security, including code red drills for faculty and students.
  • Establish a new, anonymous K-12 “See Something, Say Something” statewide, dedicated hotline, website and mobile app.
  • Require crisis intervention training for all school personnel.

$50 million proposal for mental health initiatives.

  • Expand mental health service teams statewide.
  • Require every sheriffs’ office to have a Department of Children and Families case manager embedded in their department.

Alachua County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Brett Rhodenizer said many of the components of Scott’s plan appear promising, but are not new to Alachua County.

Since Jan. 2013, every elementary, middle and high school in unincorporated Alachua County has had a school resource deputy on campus every day. Additionally, the sheriff’s office already has risk-based and population-based formulas in place to determine how many deputies to have assigned to campuses across the county, he said.

“We’re excited to hear this because it reinforces a lot of things that we’re already doing here locally,” Rhodenizer said.

Rhodenizer said the school resource deputies are trained law enforcement professionals and are with the kids every day. These deputies are prepared to react to a horrific incident, but they also have relationships with the students, teachers, families and school board. There is an element of trust, and students can go to the officers and share concerns.

“They really are our first line of defense,” Rhodenizer said.

He noted that current statutes make it difficult for law enforcement to take decisive action on threats through social media. However, he is hopeful that new legislation could make it possible.

“We’ll take that information, and we’ll follow up on every lead,” he said.

Mental health is certainly a concern here, he said, both in terms of gun safety and the citizens who may be suffering.

Rhodenizer said the interaction between the public and elected officials is great. As a law enforcement agency, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office will be enforcing whatever is decided upon. However, he said the department welcomes the conversation and discussion.

Scott said he will be working with legislature to have this plan completed within two weeks.

“Let me be clear,” he said. “There is nothing more important than the safety of our children.”

About Taylor Cavaliere

Taylor is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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