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Florida county to equip school resource deputies with rifles

Posted at 7:18 PM, Feb 21, 2018

As part of the response to one of the deadliest school shootings in US history, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters on Wednesday that deputies that patrol high schools in the county will be equipped with rifles. 

The announcement came on the same day that President Donald Trump called for an end for schools being considered "gun-free." As part of a discussion, which included the families of the 17 people killed during last week's Florida school shooting, Trump suggested that school staff carry guns. 

"This would be obviously only for people who were very adept at handling a gun, and it would be, it's called concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They'd go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer have a gun-free zone," Trump said.


Israel said the decision to equip deputies with rifles was made with the support of Broward County School's superintendent. 

"I spoke to Mr. Runcie and he’s fully cooperative of my decision, that our deputies who are qualified and trained will be carrying rifles on school grounds from this point forward,” Israel said. "The only place, if people are asking me, where they will not carry their rifle, until we look for gun locks and gun lockers, the only place where they’re not slinging their rifles they will be allowed to be stored will be locked in their police vehicle. So it will be done safely. Only deputies who are trained and qualified will carry those rifles."

He said that for most deputies, the rifles that they will carry will be AR-15s, the same type of weapon the confessed shooter used. 

Israel said in addition to having law enforcement better armed,  there needs to be a three-pronged approach to addressing school safety. 

"Schools need to be fortified," Israel said. "We need to look at how many school resource deputies are being employed at each school. I think the cities and I need to look at that... We also need to talk about sensible gun control. There are certain people in this country who do not need a gun." 

But some question the effectiveness of adding more guns into schools. Israel said that there was an armed police officer in the school at the time of last week's shooting. That officer never engaged the confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz. 

Among those opposed to adding guns in schools is Nicole Hockley, whose 6-year-old son died during the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012. 

"Let's talk about prevention," Hockley said. "There is so much we can do to help this person before we reach this point."