JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city of Jacksonville and Duval County school district on Wednesday announced a new plan to keep children safe in the classroom.
The school district hired a New York company named Armoured One, which specializes in doors and glass and claims it can slow down or prevent a shooter from getting into a classroom.
Those are crucial factors after police in Texas determined the door accessed by the gunman at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde was closed but not locked. Originally, state police said a teacher left the door propped open. Investigators concluded the teacher actually closed the door, but it didn’t lock automatically like it was supposed to. The gunman shot and killed 19 students and two teachers before he was killed by law enforcement.
Armoured One, which was founded after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, is made up of former military and law enforcement agents who study mass shooting attacks and consult on school security measures.
“We will first work collaboratively to identify where Armoured One resources can best compliment the training already provided, adding their resources to the training tools and resources the district already uses,” Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said Wednesday afternoon at a news conference at City Hall to announce the partnership.
Press the play button directly below to watch the entire news conference.
The security glass and film that Armoured One invented can withstand several hits -- whether that’s bullets, someone ramming into the glass or using other objects or weapons -- without breaking, which could slow an attacker. The doors it uses have metal framing, latch bolts and deadbolts.
Armoured One is also known for providing active shooter training and assessments. The company issues individual reports for each building and recommends the best equipment to use for each facility it’s working with.
Curry said he plans to find the funding for that training but also work with the company to perform school security assessments. Armoured One CEO Tom Czyz said his team knows what to look for when it assesses a school’s vulnerability.
“They’re looking at ways to slow down an attacker and speed up police response,” Czyz said. “How do we slow him down -- and then speed up the response that would stop him.”
Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene and Duval County School Police Department Chief Greg Burton say security and safety are top of mind every day.
What I want to be common is that our families know that we are prepared each and every day. And that’s what we work towards being a better school district as it relates to safety and security,” Green said.
Burton said, “I would say the one word that summarizes everything that we do is vigilance.”
Greene said that the district’s best defense is its students and staff. She said she continues to encourage the school community to report anything they see that’s suspicious.
As far as the cost, it’s unclear right now, as the partnership is still being worked out.
Half-cent sales tax for school improvement & security
Duval County voters approved a half-cent sales tax in November 2020 with the specific purpose of replacing aging schools, repairing a massive backlog of maintenance issues, and bolstering school security.
Right now, 74 projects are in the design phase and 15 are under construction.
As of January 2022, the tax has generated more than $118 million dollars, with more than $5.7 million already spent or allocated to projects under construction.
Over its 15-year life, the sales tax is projected to generate $64.9 million for the specific purpose of upgrading school security in DCPS schools.
More information about how that money is planned to be spent in individual schools can be found on the school district’s half-cent sales tax information dashboard.
DCPS security measures
- Each school has a safety plan and emergency response team.
- All school classrooms are locked when occupied by students.
- School plans are reviewed with staff each semester.
- The district has a highly trained school police department, giving all schools direct access to school resource officers.
- The district utilizes various major security monitoring methods including camera surveillance and monitored controlled access systems.
- All schools and district offices have a District Emergency Communications Network radio with direct access to school police and district leadership. School Police have direct access to JSO.
- All schools conduct regular evacuation drills (fire drills).
- All schools conduct regular emergency and lockdown (“code red” and “code yellow”) drills.