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Coalition & League object to comments by Gov.-Elect DeSantis’ Transition Advisory Panel on School Safety

In response to comments made on Thursday by members of the transition advisory panel for Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis calling for the militarization of Florida’s public schools, the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence and League of Women Voters of Florida released the following statement:

“After reading the comments made by several members of the DeSantis Transition Advisory Panel yesterday, the Coalition and League are gravely concerned that in response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre we are moving towards the creation of a police state on our public school campuses as the strategy to ensure safety for students, staff, administrators and visitors.

“Specifically, comments like those from advisory-committee member Jeff Bell, president of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, are extremely troubling where he said in part, ‘We need to be unleashed into the schools, show consequences to the kids, so that when they grow and turn 18, we’re not actually creating a pipeline to the prison system.’ Unfortunately, what Mr. Bell overlooks is that with this type of mindset, you won’t need a school-to-prison pipeline because the school will just become part of the prison system itself.

“If we must introduce armed security in our schools, it should be through trained, law enforcement officers (school resource officers) who possess tactical training that includes responding to active shooter threats and whose only job will be to protect the school. School security should be a collaborative effort between the local school board and local law enforcement. It would be a mistake to interfere with the school board’s role in that process.

“Active shooters and mass casualty events in our nation’s schools have become more common over the last 13 years. Our focus should be on preventing the active shooter before he kills instead of trying to stop him after the fact. The single best method to actually prevent an active shooter is to identify potential offenders through a comprehensive intelligence program.

“We reiterate our call to the Legislature and Governor-Elect DeSantis to allocate proper and recurring funding for programs that include much-needed counseling and intervention services for young people along with de-escalation techniques and better environmental designs for Florida’s schools. In many instances where mass shootings occur, the perpetrator had a connection to the location, and that running theme can be addressed with intervention programs.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there must be a discussion about easy access to firearms – especially military-style assault weapons, which the MSD shooter used and is the choice of mass shooters in America. Governor Scott and the majority of the Legislature failed to address one of the main problems associated with mass shootings and that is the gun. Violence in our schools is a real problem; adding more guns will never be the solution.”

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The Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence was formed after the Pulse shooting to promote smart gun legislation. It has grown to include more than 100 local, state, and national organizations and includes such diverse groups as the League of Women Voters of Florida, The Campaign To Keep Guns Off Campus, the Florida PTA, Equality Florida, the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, the National Council of Jewish Women and Doctors for America.

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