TAMPA, Fla. — In response to the tragic school shooting in Nashville, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is advocating for armed security on private school campuses.
What You Need To Know
- Police: 3 children, 3 adults killed in Nashville school shooting
- “We never know when and where an active shooter is going to show up," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says
- Judd said the Nashville incident must serve as a wake up call to private and public schools
“We have to be prepared to stop the threat before people are hurt,” Judd said. “And the only way to do it is to have well trained armed people there.”
On Monday morning, video surveillance footage captured a mini van pulling into the parking lot of Covenant School, a private Christian School in Nashville.
Minutes later, bullets shatter the glass doors at a side entrance and the shooter is able to climb inside.
Police say that woman, identified as 28-year-old Elizabeth Hale, went on to shoot and kill six people, including three children, before she was shot killed by responding officers.
Judd, a member of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Safety Commission and a driving force behind the state’s Guardian Program, said the incident needs to serve as a wake up call to both public and private schools.
“No one is immune from danger,” Judd said. “We never know when and where an active shooter is going to show up.”
Unlike public schools, private schools are not required to have an armed officer or guard on campus. We contacted a handful as part of our coverage and found a mix of measures being taken.
Some opt to hire private security while others contract resource officers through their local sheriff’s office.
Still, many more have no security at all. Sheriff Judd said that needs to change, especially given private school enrollment is expected to increase, with the signing of the school choice expansion bill just this week.
“For the private schools, I think it’s a marketing tool in their favor,” Judd said. “To have well trained armed security there in the event one of these horrible, evil shooters comes to the campus. If you don’t, then the liability is squarely on your shoulders.”
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office offers its own training program, called the Sentinel Program, which Judd said the Guardian Program is based on.
Judd said he sent letters to private schools and daycares countywide in 2022, offering them access to the program.
He said it and other resources are still available to any interested schools.