Majority Says Teachers Should be Armed, County to Vote on Adding SROs
HERNANDO – On the heels of every mass shooting, like the horrific tragedy last week at a South Florida High School, politicians run to their respective podiums, screaming “More Gun Control” or “Support the Second Amendment.”
Politicizing terrible tragedies committed at the hands of extremists, the mentally ill, or just evil human beings, is a sad but all too common occurrence in our country, but it does open dialogue on what can be done to prevent future mass shootings, especially those in our public schools.
One side believes semi-automatic long-rifles, or assault weapons, as they are often misclassified, should be banned. The other side says everyone should “Arm up,” believing that the best defense is to encourage law abiding citizens to carry firearms.
Last week, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd proposed arming teachers in every Florida school. Although the radical idea has not come without oppositions, surprisingly, most seem to be in favor of having an armed presence in public schools.
The majority of RNRF viewers say “yes” to arming teachers on a voluntary basis. According to a recent survey, 83% of nearly 2,300 people polled say teachers should be allowed to carry a firearm on school campus. And that’s exactly what Lawmakers in Tallahassee are currently debating in Committee.
The Hernando Board of County Commission Met this morning to discuss implementing School Recourse Officers in every school. Currently, only Hernando County High Schools have armed Sheriff’s Office Recourse Officers, but officials say it’s time to put them in every school.
Prior to this morning’s BOCC meeting, I spoke to Chairman Steve Champion on the issue and he strongly supported immediate action to place SRO’s in all schools. Champion also agreed with properly trained staff having the right to carry firearms in schools. “It’s painful to hear that we have 10 elementary schools with no SROs and no armed protection for our children in the county,” said Champion.
Hernando County School Board Chairman Mark Johnson agreed with the proposal and tells RNRF, “I think Grady Judd’s idea has an awful lot of merit.” Johnson also spoke during this morning’s BOCC meeting to outline District’s current SRO budget. The District currently spends $677,749 for 14 SROs, says Johnson, but County Administrator Len Sossaman explains that the County covers the cost of 5 of the 14.
Sheriff Al Nienhuis says he would need an additional $600,000 to train and employee 10 new SROs for the next school year.
I asked Neinhuis if he supported Grady Judd’s push to train and arm school staff, but he declined to comment.
Officials expect the total budget shared between the County and School District to be between 1.2 and 1.3 million.
Commissioners plan to vote on the proposal during the next BOCC meeting on February 27th.
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