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Gov. Scott, Sheriff Williams Talk Safer Schools Plan In Jacksonville

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office

Florida Governor Rick Scott stopped in Jacksonville Wednesday  — part of his touring the state this week to tout his $500 million proposal to make schools safer. This comes two weeks after the Parkland school shooting that killed 17 people.

Scott was joined by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, Duval Superintendent Patricia Willis, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, and other sheriffs from around Northeast Florida.

“I believe the local sheriffs have to be responsible for the law enforcement and the plans at our schools,” Scott said. “Whether that’s what the law enforcement presence should be or how we harden our schools.”

One element of Scott’s plan is mandatory police officers in every school, something Williams said may be one of the most important proposed requirements.

“I don’t think that a teacher should have a dual-hat in that area,” Williams said. “I think you need a professional there to do that. There’s opportunities to talk about whether or not you allow teachers to supplement that plan at some level. I’m open to having that discussion, clearly.”

Related: Governor Unveils ‘Major Action Plan’ A Week After Deadly Broward School Shooting

Williams said he’s OK with the state raising the age for buying a gun to 21, a proposal by Scott last week. However, he added the issue is complicated as he thinks purchasing and possessing a gun are two different issues.

“Nothing should impact a 16-year-old’s ability to go hunting with their father,” he said.  “Or even two 18-year-olds going duck hunting one Saturday morning.”

In addition to police in every school, Scott said he wants mental-health workers at all schools and Department of Children and Families employees posted inside every police department to work as a crisis welfare worker for repeat cases in the community.

Some funding would also go toward adding metal detectors, bulletproof glass and upgraded locks to schools.  

And dollars would go toward an anonymous see-something-say-something hotline and app.

Now, state lawmakers will have to decide if they agree with Scott’s plan. Just over a week remains in the Florida legislative session.

Reporter Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.