Combat Vets Hired to Keep Students Safe

One Florida school has decided that they don’t want to fight fair. Instead, they want an “overwhelming advantage” when it comes to keeping students safe from the threat of an active shooter.

As such, the school has chosen to hire combat veterans with semi-automatic rifles. While some may say that it is a bit too extreme, it’s the measure that they feel the most comfortable with.

Located in Palmetto, Florida, the Manatee School for the Arts has hired two combat veterans as a way to comply with the new state legislation that requires schools to have at least once “safe-school” officer in place. The Principal, Bill Jones, says that they have plenty of good reasons to go above and beyond the state requirements.

Jones wants to make sure that they have an overwhelming advantage over any potential active shooter situations. One of the guards that were hired has a resume containing 15 years of infantry experience. The second veteran guard will begin working later in the year. Jones wanted to hire combat veterans to ensure that they can be trusted to react quickly and effectively under fire.

The principal said that he didn’t want to hire anyone who hasn’t been shot at and who had to fire back. He wants to know that someone is capable of handling the situation properly.

The Palmetto police chief is also in support of using semi-automatic weapons, something not everyone has been comfortable with. Chief Scott Tyler explains that assault rifles are prolific in society whether you are for or against them. He feels that it only makes sense for the school guard to have the ability to handle potential threats, involving going assault rifle to assault rifle.

Jones has also said that most of the parents have been accepting of the guards. The hired guards were also trained by the Vanity County Sheriff’s Department and were required to complete a minimum of 132 hours of firearm safety and proficiency training. The weapons will not be stored on campus. Further, the guards must keep the chambers empty when they are patrolling the school grounds.

Jones is also paying a higher salary to the guards because he believes that the safety provided to the students is worth it. The salaries are about $50,000, exceeding the state allocation received by the schools substantially.

There have been a number of other schools that have chosen to hire former military members as their guards. Most schools have met the state requirements by hiring someone from local law enforcement. However, as long as the guards have gone through the training by the sheriff’s department and have gone through the firearm safety and proficiency training, the schools have the ability to hire anyone they feel will protect the students.

In 2019, there were a number of school shootings that took place in elementary, middle, and high schools. Virtually every state in the country has had experience with at least one active shooter situation at a K-12 school. Terry Parker High School in Jacksonville experienced an active shooter in May. Additionally, there was the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that took place in Parkland in 2018, which is one of the momentous events that caused the state of Florida to boost their legislation.

Since Manatee School for the Arts has set the bar high for how schools are going to deal with the state requirements, more and more schools across Florida and elsewhere in the country are looking at what they can do in order to create an “overwhelming advantage” to keep their students safe in the event that they come face-to-face with an active shooter on campus.

One thing that all schools agree on is that they want to do what they can in order to keep students safe. The principal understands that it will cost more money to have combat veterans on campus but he’s willing to spend the extra money to do so, even if it means having to pay more than what the state is allocating. There have been too many situations where a school resource officer doesn’t respond when there’s an active shooter – and with combat veterans in place, this worry would not be in place.

The trend is now in place as other schools scramble to have the best possible guards in place, even if it means allowing them to carry semi-automatic rifles to be able to go up against any shooter that actively presents themselves as a threat to the student body.