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Florida sheriff’s solution to campus shootings: Arm the teachers

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd touted the county's Sentinel program on Fox & Friends this weekend.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd speaks during a news conference Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016 in Winter Haven. CHRIS URSO | Times
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd speaks during a news conference Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016 in Winter Haven. CHRIS URSO | Times
Published Feb. 20, 2018

Grady Judd believes he's found a solution that would help stop future school shootings: prepare teachers to shoot back.

The Polk County Sheriff touted his department's "Sentinel" program — which it developed in 2016 — during a Saturday appearance on Fox & Friends.

"Do you know that there is gun control on every campus in Florida and, I would submit, across the United States — that you can't bring a gun on campus. And no one does, except for the crazed person — the active shooter. There has to be a line of defense," Judd said Saturday. (Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had an armed resource officer on campus during last week's school shooting. He never came into contact with the shooter.)

The Sentinel program gives certain teachers the title of "Special Deputy." To achieve that title, teachers have to pass a mental health screening, a criminal background check — and complete hundreds of hours of firearm training. Special Deputies would receive a concealed campus carry permit. Read more about the program here.

State leaders have praised the program. Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said Monday he'd like to see schools all over the state adopt Judd's proposal.

At least one school already has. The Polk County Sheriff's Office announced a partnership with Southeastern University in Lakeland in December 2016.

"We are excited about this new program that will result in well trained staff being available on campus to rapidly respond to any active assailant threat. We are committed to providing the safest learning environment possible for our University community," Kent Ingle, Southeastern University's president, said at the time.

Progressives will likely smart at the idea of adding more guns to school campuses. And Judd has long been known for his outlandish proposals and proclamations. Still, the Sentinel program is worth keeping an eye on. It could be coming to a campus near you.

Read More: Age limits and waiting periods for assault weapons? Florida legislators are considering it