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Duval Schools bolster security in response to mass shootings

Duval School Superintendent Diana Greene discusses school security during a news conference Wednesday, June 1, 2022.
Raymon Troncoso
Duval School Superintendent Diana Greene discusses security during a news conference Wednesday, June 1, 2022.

Mayor Lenny Curry on Wednesday announced a partnership between the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Duval County Public Schools and city government in hiring a security firm to enhance school safety in response to mass shootings.

Curry said the partnership with New York-based Armoured One had been in the works for months, with the announcement coincidentally landing soon after the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting that left dozens dead or wounded.

While the mayor didn't offer specifics as to what the partnership would bring, he said the cost of using Armoured One's services would be under $100,000 as part of next fiscal year's budget, which could come from City Council or the mayor's discretionary funds.

School Superintendent Diana Greene and School Police Chief Greg Burton both said they welcome the support of Armoured One, while reiterating what they called the district's current robust security measures, implemented in the wake of the 2018 Parkland school shooting as the result of state and local mandates.

"Every one of our schools is staffed with an armed police officer or an armed school guardian. Each of these individuals has continually received advanced law enforcement training with rapid response training," Burton said. "We are vigilant about compliance with the state laws regarding drills, security plans and security plan review. Entrances to school buildings are locked and controlled with electronic access systems. All external access to schools is to remain locked during the day. All classrooms are locked during instruction."

According to Burton, the district is halfway through a three-year plan to harden schools against active shooters using the recently passed half-cent sales tax that's currently netted over $100 million. Those projects include security renovations to old buildings and developing new campuses with safety measures already in place. Progress on the program is available on the district's online dashboard.

Reporter Raymon Troncoso joined WJCT News in June of 2021 after concluding his fellowship with Report For America, where he was embedded with Capitol News Illinois covering Illinois state government with a focus on policy and equity. You can reach him at (904) 358-6319 or and follow him on Twitter @RayTroncoso.