Manatee School for the Arts in Palmetto, Florida has hired two combat veterans armed with semi-automatic rifles to patrol and guard the school campus against potential threats. The addition of the school guardians comply with state legislation requiring schools to have at least one “safe-school” officer.
Principal Bill Jones said they have good reason to go above and beyond the minimum requirements. “We’re not looking for a fair fight,” Jones said of potential active shooter situations. “We’re looking at an overwhelming advantage.
Jones wanted combat veterans who can be trusted to react quickly and correctly in hostile events. “I wouldn’t hire anybody who hadn’t been shot at and fired back,” Jones said. “I need someone who has been in that situation.” One of the guards has 15 years of infantry experience.
Jones said parents have been fairly accepting of the professionally trained guards. Their training was conducted by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Department and had to complete at minimum 132 hours of firearm safety and proficiency training. The weapons are not stored on campus and the guards are required to keep the chambers empty while they are patrolling according to Jones.