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Safety leaders: Schools are safer than before Parkland shooting but there's still work to be done

Posted at 6:02 PM, Apr 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-04 18:02:07-04

LARGO, Fla. — On February 14, 2018, a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and injured 17 others.

It was the deadliest school shooting in history and has forever altered the way safety is handled in schools.

Not long after the shooting, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School Safety Act was passed by state legislators and the MSD Public Safety Commission was formed. The commission is made up of a statewide team of law enforcement, educators, and many others. The chairman of the commission is Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

"The commission began meeting in April of 2018 and was tasked with, in essence, figuring out what happened, what went wrong, and how do we prevent that from happening again," said Gualtieri.

In just a few years a lot has been done to make Florida schools safer including making campuses safer by a single point of entry, having armed School Resource Officers or guardians in all schools, having monthly mass shooting drills, and having a mobile panic notification system.

"I think the biggest change I’ve seen is the level of cooperation with local law enforcement. So it's not the school district themselves working on safety and security, we have the cooperation of law enforcement and together we’re taking a look at things every single month," said Chris Herbic Associate Superintendent of Pinellas County Schools Operations.

However, the sheriff said there is a lot more work to do including behavioral threat assessments, and getting troubled kids the help they need before something happens.

"We want to take someone off that pathway to violence," said Gualtieri.

Right now there is a bill on the governor’s desk that will keep the public safety commission active until 2026.

"There’s been a lot of changes. The schools in Florida are safer today than they were in 2018 but there’s still work to be done. And while we’ve made improvements we’re not there yet," said Gualtieri.