MANATEE -- School boards would be required to have policies to deal with shooters and hostage situations on campus, and school officials would appoint "school safety officers" with military or law enforcement training to carry guns on campus, under a bill filed by a Bradenton legislator.
The purpose of Florida House Bill 753 is to ensure that trained people are on school campuses who could effectively handle a "shooter situation," state Rep. Greg Steube told the Herald last week.
The bill also would require law enforcement officials to review plans for new schools, the Republican sponsor said, and their recommendations incorporated before contracts are awarded.
Many elementary and middle schools here lack full-time school resource officers, al
though every high school has one assigned to patrol its halls, Steube said.
Steube also wants schools to do "lockdown drills," similar to fire drills, and provide training for teachers in handling emergency situations, he said.
The bill would also provide for 40-60 hours per year of instructional training and eight hours of active shooter training per year, said Steube. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement would handle training duties, he said.
The bill resembles a similar measure Steube proposed last year in response to a bloody massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, but it has been tweaked this time around.
A lone shooter killed 20 children and six adults during a rampage at Sandy Hook school at Newtown, Conn. The shooter then took his own life.
School resource officers are already authorized to carry guns on Manatee County school campuses, but many schools do not have a full-time school resource officer, said Steube.
Asked whether the school district would support or oppose the bill, spokesman Steve Valley said, "We're not going to comment on any bill until it's been approved. The safety of our students and teachers is of the utmost importance in the school district, but I don't think it's proper to comment on any piece of legislation until it's been approved."
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.