Tampa Bay schools are making big changes to keep kids safe. Soon, schools across Florida will practice active shooting drills as often as fire drills. Security experts tell ABC Action News it’s never too early to breach this topic with your kids.
Kelly Wnek, a Clearwater mom, says she's already breached the tricky topic with her kids, including her 6-year-old daughter.
“I tell my daughter she needs to run and hide, duck and cover and get away,” Wnek explained, “It's hard to talk or even think about, but you have to because it’s happening. It needs to be addressed.”
Since the parkland shooting, Pinellas County and several school districts across Tampa Bay have added monthly active shooter drills.
Dave Couvertier, a retired FBI special agent and Crime Prevention Consultant, who teaches active shooter training, says it's a good move.
“Bad guys have plans. They work on them, they study them. If we don’t have a plan or only have half a plan, we’ll lose every time,” Couvertier explained.
But how do you talk about these tough topics with your child? Couvertier says be open with your kids, regardless if they’re in kindergarten or college.
“Can something happen? Yes. Will something happen? Probably not. But you know what? If it does happen, you want them prepared.”
He says tell your kids to run if they hear gunshots. If that doesn’t work hide behind a substantial barricade or fight.
“They could wind up being the leader that saves the lives of people because they actually know what to do when a crisis develops,” Couvertier added.
Pinellas County is also upgrading school campuses. First, closing off the front entrances at schools from the rest of the building. It's called "adding a glass storefront." Next, they're in the process of upgrading the camera system at Northeast High School, Meadownlawn Middle School and John Sexton Elementary School, allowing officers to see a live stream from inside your child’s school during an emergency.The program will be expanded to other schools if the pilot program goes well.
The district is also planning to add 81 school resource officers, plus 18 more at the charter schools. Yet, those upgrades won’t be in place until August.
“It may take months for the governor’s plan to get put into place but we can learn to protect ourselves now," explained Keith Bowling, a Largo Police Officer and active shooting trainer.
Wnek isn’t wasting a single moment.
“The kids need to know what to do and what their responsibilities are. So they stay safe and so they stay alive," she elaborated.