BARTOW, Fla. -- It has been over a year since 14 students and three adults were gunned down inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, yet Ryan Petty is still furiously working to make change.
Petty’s 14-year-old daughter, Alaina Petty was inside the school at the time a lone gunman targeted a school full of children.
On top of working on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, Petty is also now undergoing one of the state’s most rigorous program to become a protector of Florida schools.
“It is not easy. We have already had participants that have failed to move on. They couldn’t qualify,” Petty said.
Petty is already two and a half weeks into the 160 hours course and if all goes right will graduate in five days.
But the father says he didn’t take on the training for a different career path. He did it so he could promote and defend the guardian program.
“Look, I’m not just going to speak of this from a parents perspective without knowing all the details and all the experiences," Petty said.
Sheriff Grady Judd works on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Commission with Petty and says they made the special honorary spot just for Petty.
If Petty does graduate the course, he will be the first honorary guardian and have extent inside knowledge of how the training works.
Sheriff Judd also added Petty is in such a circumstance where, if he believes something could be added to the course, his perspective would be heavily weighted.
“I think this is the answer, it’s that last line of defense,” Petty said, with his left hand pointer finger bandaged from days of shooting.
In 2018, Florida passed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Act, enforcing public school to hire armed guardians and/or resource officers to be placed in every school.
Polk County Schools is not on board with allowing its teachers to become guardians yet, but Sheriff Judd says that’s his ultimate goal.
One, Petty says will save future children from suffering like his 14-year-old daughter, Alaina did.
“She would be proud of me," he said.