Newly formed group aims to improve school and workplace safety

Three out of four Floridians are worried about violence at their local school according to a new poll conducted by a coalition of law enforcement, businesses, mental health professionals and educators. 

The Institute for a Safer Florida is spearheaded by the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

"Big picture the institute will focus in four areas, safer workplaces, safer schools, mental health and of course public safety,” said Mark Wilson, president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Its goal is to cut down on workplace and school violence, which has taken the lives 85 Floridians in the last 32 months.

"We've got to get past reacting to a shooting and try to prevent them,” said Dr. Stacy Chambers, executive director of Florida State University Schools.

The institute's polling shows 94 percent of Floridians support more emergency training for school teachers and staff.

The group says its primary focus will be investigating and developing best practices for businesses and schools in the state. However, there’s one area the group isn’t touching: gun control.

"That's someone else’s argument and we are not going to get into that argument,” Wilson said. "We're going to get into best practices, we're going to get into mental health. That's the conversation we think we can make a difference on.”

Instead, members hope better communication between businesses, schools, police and mental health can prevent the violence from ever occurring.

"You know if you see something say something,” said Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter, president of the Florida Sheriffs Association. "I know that sounds real simplistic, but there's a lot of truth to that and if we have people comfortable enough to say, 'hey we saw this' we may be able to prevent another episode.”

The group plans to advocate in support of Legislation that aims to increase public safety.

Part of its mission will include defending the school safety law passed last year in the wake of the Parkland school shooting.