Are NE Florida counties ready with armed staff for every school?

No, but most have a plan to have security in place next month

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - With Duval County having hired only 24 of the 105 school safety assistants it needs to have an armed employee in every school when students return to class next month, News4Jax looked to see where neighboring school districts stand in meeting the mandate set this spring by the Florida Legislature.

The law, passed after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February, requires either a sworn law enforcement officer or a specially trained, armed employee in every public school in the state.

Each district has a different approach to how it is going to make that happen. Here are the updates we received by the end of the day Monday.

St. Johns County needs to hire and train 28 additional people to staff every school with someone armed. Sixteen of those will be Sheriff’s Office deputies, but not all are hired and trained. A contracted security firm will provide security personnel to the 12 schools not covered by deputies, and cover the others until the deputies are ready to be put into the field.

Clay County is hiring 29 total school safety officers and 17 total school resource officers.

Nassau County is in the process of hiring seven additional employees to have a security person at every school. The district said they’ll all be ready to start by the first day of school.

Columbia County already has a school resource deputy at each of its 15 schools and the Sheriff’s Office will hire an additional 19 deputies for backup.

Flagler County plans to have four additional SROs from the Sheriff’s Office, so there can be a sworn deputy at every school.

At the end of the day we were still waiting for updates from Putnam and Baker counties.

Most parents News4Jax spoke with Monday are in support of having armed employees in schools, as long as school districts are doing proper background checks and training.

"The world is crazy these days," Remona Sibley said. "You don’t know who’s who, so you have to be ready?"

"I still feel kind of shaky because bullets have no eyes when a situation happens, but I feel more safe with officers there at the school," said Gina Brown.

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