To the families of elementary school children in Manatee County:
There is a commissioner on the Manatee County School Board who goes by the name of Dave "Watchdog" Miner. The term "Watchdog" should represent vigilance and strength, but to this commissioner it signifies pettiness and defiance of common sense. The "Watchdog" is playing politics with the safety of children of our county.
Schools Superintendent Rick Mills was acutely aware of the tragic events surrounding Columbine and more recent school shootings. His attempt to prevent such events from visiting Manatee County schools by installing armed security guards into the school system has been undermined by the cavalier attitude of a talking head, someone who has no children within the system.
The group monitoring the Sunshine Law instituted a lawsuit because a meeting was held without notifying or inviting the public. The suit was successful and the litigants were awarded $10,775. But they never looked back! The safety of the children was never their primary concern, just the financial award.
The day before the security officers were to report to the schools, we were told that the Manatee County sheriff would arrest any armed security officer presenting himself at the schools. The sheriff operated under the belief that anyone carrying a sidearm into a school was violating the law. He was not correct! As Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi confirmed, school districts are authorized to hire armed security guards for the protection of its schoolchildren.
Back to Mr. Dave "Watchdog" Miner, it is his considered opinion that security officers with years of police work (or retired police officers) are not up to the job. He calls us "rent-a-cops." I would direct his attention to the recent shooting at the Canadian Parliament building. It was not the police who stopped this man, it was the Sergeant at Arms who ended this rampage, a retired police officer.
If you ask a police officer why he/she carries a sidearm, the response is usually that they carry to protect themselves. Ask the same question of a security officer at a school and the response will likely be to protect the students and staff. I had 675 students at Braden River School in my charge and my one and only job was to ensure that they felt safe and were able to return safely to their families each day.
The new commissioner feels that security is simply a matter of ensuring that the doors are locked. Someone should tell her that locks keep honest men honest. A locked door means absolutely nothing to someone with malicious intent.
Mark Kanous, retired police officer