The safety of students on college campuses throughout the country has become a growing concern amongst both parents and administrators. Increasing political and cultural hostilities, combined with a sharp rise in gun violence and terrorism, has forced communities to think outside the box for ways to prevent a tragedy. Polk County, FL Sheriff, Grady Judd, has come up with a groundbreaking solution.
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The Sentinel Program announced at the end of last year, provides comprehensive and professional law enforcement training to select Southeastern University faculty and staff, that will allow them to carry a concealed weapon on campus. While Florida law would prevent this under most circumstances, Sheriff Judd has found an unconventional solution to that problem. He is making the staff members in the Sentinel program “special deputies.”
In his press release, Sheriff Judd gave the simplest of explanations regarding why he feels this type of program is necessary.
“In addition to all the training, threat assessments, individual intervention, and technology we have invested into our security programs, we know one more critical thing we can do to reduce the number of lives impacted in an active assailant incident is a shorter response time for the good guys to interrupt and stop the bad guy.”
Southeastern University administrators and staff are equally excited about the program. “The safety of our students, faculty, and staff is a paramount concern for us at Southeastern University,” said SEU President, Dr. Kent Ingle. “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.”
Participants in the Sentinel program are required to undergo the sheriff department’s extensive firearms training course, which includes 100 hours of firearm instruction, a 16-hour precision pistol course, and eight hours of active assailant/shooter training. They must also pass the firearms training with a minimum score of 85%.
A 2014 study by the Crime Prevention Research Center, found that a staggering 96.2% of mass shootings between 1998 and 2015 occurred in “gun-free” zones. Sandy Hook Elementary school, Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, San Bernardino, Chattanooga-all gun-free locations. Thanks to Sherriff Judd, we will likely never hear about a tragedy like these at Southeastern University.