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Safety in schools at the forefront of the upcoming state legislative session

Session officially begins Tuesday

School Safety is a Top Priority at New Legislative Session
School Safety is a Top Priority at New Legislative Session

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Florida lawmakers have designated safety in schools to be the first topic of discussion when the new legislative session begins Monday. Specifically, lawmakers are preparing to discuss emergency alert systems, panic alarms, and statewide active shooter response planning.

If the emergency alert bill is passed, it would alert the public to imminent threats and lockdown alert would also be in place in case of an emergency.

The panic alarm bill would be named in honor of Alyssa Alhadeff. She was among the 17 killed in the Parkland shooting massacre. It would require every public school building to have at least one panic button.

Another bill sets standards for police and media in the event of an active shooter. It would require a minimum set of requirements for how police prepare and respond. There would also be a plan for communication between police and media

Crime and Safety Expert Ken Jefferson said identifying primary and alternate routes would be part of that.

“As they collect data and intelligence it helps them set up. It helps them with how to set up a perimeter, what strategies they’re going to use. All of this is happening instantaneously,” he said.

Even with the implementation or improvements of all systems, lawmakers acknowledge, this may only improve response times by seconds. Jefferson said in schools shooting situations, a few more seconds warning saves lives.

“Law enforcement run toward the problem, whereas everyone else is trying to get out of the way. Information is key and vital in those first few minutes,” Jefferson said.

If these bills passed as they are written now, they would take effect this year. The Senate committee meeting is scheduled for 3:30 Monday afternoon.

About the Authors:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013 and reports every weekday for The Morning Show.