First responders participate in active school shooter drill
Monroe County’s more than 8,600 students head back to school Wednesday, and district and law enforcement officials say new security and mental health measures are in place aimed at preventing mass shootings and other violence.
In preparation for the academic year, maintenance and facilities crews built security enhancements to the district’s 16 schools, Lynsey Saunders, school district communications and community relations coordinator, said in a press release Tuesday.
These include changes to some of the schools’ entrances, a new “visitor system” that will be installed in some schools in early 2020, and a surveillance agreement between the district and the sheriff’s office, Saunders said.
Teachers and administrators have also received training “related to safety and security assessments and reporting,” Saunders said.
The measures are being implemented as a continued response to the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 17 people dead.
Meanwhile, Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay has assigned a deputy to every public and charter school in the Keys to serve as school resource officers, said Adam Linhardt, sheriff’s office spokesman.
“All the SROs have been training in the lead-up to the first day of school on Wednesday,” Linhardt said.
The sheriff’s office is urging students and parents to stay vigilant and to be cognizant of warning signs among their peers that they might be in danger of harming themselves or others.
“Law enforcement and the school district are working to ensure that our kids remain safe in this increasingly difficult time,” Linhardt said. “Remind your children to tell a teacher or school resource officer if they see something that doesn’t seem quite right.”
Red flags to be on the lookout for include someone bragging about bringing a weapon to school, bullying and threats, the sudden withdrawal of an individual from their normal circles and talk of suicide.