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Politics

Sen. Jeff Brandes Files School Lockdown Bill

February 11, 2013 - 6:00pm

Schools will be required to have as many lockdown drills during the year as they do evacuation drills, under a bill, Senate Bill, 790, filed by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg.

On the heels of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting in December, the School Emergency Procedures is intended to prepare students, teachers, and support personnel for potentially dangerous situations at their schools.

The goal is to enact straightforward solutions that can be implemented now to increase safety for our students Brandes stated in a release.

As a military officer I used after-action reports as an invaluable tool to improve my units performance. It is my expectation that this tool will also improve the safety procedures at our educational institutions.

The bill requires that schools have at least as many emergency lockdown drills as they have emergency evacuation drills per year.

Local law enforcement and fire officials would be encouraged to participate in emergency lockdown drills and provide recommended improvements for school safety. Schools would also be required to do post-drill reports to set best practices and identify safety concerns.

No cost estimate has been made on requiring each school district to conduct the drills and accompanying post-report reports.

Currently, Florida school districts spend about $70 million for security, of which most goes into middle and high school resource officers.

Florida School Boards Association Director Wayne Blanton has estimated that additional security demands that have been called for in reaction to Newtown could top $100 million, by bringing in additional officers, cameras and locks.

While legislators continue to discuss how Florida should react to Newtown, Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamont Springs, has said until societys behavior is cleaned up, no amount of prevention, additional cameras, fences, security buzzers, lock-down drills or added security -- armed or unarmed -- will help reduce violence at schools.


Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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