Emphasis on safety at Duval County high school football games

Improvements being made during 2019 season

By Maggie Lorenz - Multi-media journalist

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - High school football season has returned, and there are a number of big changes coming to Duval County game days during the regular season, which starts in a week.

Duval County Public Schools has been improving game safety and security following a triple shooting that happened after a game at Raines High School in 2018.

Fans heading to a game can expect to go through a metal detector, and they can expect to be wanded before entering the stadium. No backpacks will be allowed in, and all small bags will be searched. 

Kickoffs will begin at 6 p.m., giving law enforcement an extra hour of daylight. News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said that will help police keep a better eye on people.

"If someone is trying to conceal something, trying to bring something in that they shouldn't bring in, it allows law enforcement officials the opportunity to see it a whole lot better," Jefferson said.

A year ago, right after the rivalry game ended between Lee and Raines high schools, police said a gang shooting left one person dead and two people hurt. The school district said the shooting happened despite heavy security from Jacksonville and school police.

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Jefferson pointed out that when someone gets kicked out of a game, they're now removed from the whole area.

"They're going to make sure that they're gone away completely from the seating because a lot of times incidents happen after all those incidents are over, where someone has been extricated out of the game, they'll be outside waiting," Jefferson said.

Three games that draw big crowds will now happen on Saturdays, including Sandalwood vs. Fletcher, Raines vs. Lee and Raines vs. Ribault.

"The fact that the time of the games has changed doesn't solve a problem if someone has a beef with someone, but it's an advantage for law enforcement," Jefferson said. "They have the extra daylight and can monitor more closely."

Another change for the 2019 season, general admission is $8.

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