News Stories

Hendry County to Make School Safety Changes

Hendry County is trying to make some serious changes in their school safety. Wednesday night, February 28th, 2018, Sheriff Steve Whidden posted a three minute video on Facebook, telling Hendry county residents that armed volunteers may be placed in their schools for added protection.

On March 2nd, 2018 Hendry County Sheriff’s Office Steve Whidden and Hendry County Schools Superintendent Paul Puletti addressed the county via press conference.

They let residents know a lot of things were still in the works, but ultimately volunteers would be armed and anonymous.

The student resource officers (SRO) would undergo a psychological evaluation, a drug test, background test, and polygraph test.

When asked how SROs would be different from current active deputies, Sheriff Whidden said certain qualifications would be higher than that of a deputy.

“For example,” he said, “If a deputy normally has to pass a shooting test by 80%, then the volunteers would need to pass at 85%.”

Would these volunteers be paid? Maybe. Superintendent Puletti said the volunteers would be employees of the school board. However, whether or not they volunteers would be paid has not been determined.

Sheriff Steve Whidden wanted to stress that arming volunteers is not the end-all solution.

“Number one thing is deterrent…if you come in here, you’re going to die,” he said. He’s hoping having more trained and armed individuals on campus would deter individuals from shooting students in schools.

“The Parkland shooter was in and out in three minutes, and killed 17 people. The average time is five minutes,” said Sheriff Whidden. He fears if a shooter gets on campus, he or she may kill the deputy sheriff on scene. Currently there is one officer on campus. If one deputy was killed, students and faculty would have to wait until more officers were dispatched.

There is no word if teachers will be armed as well, however that was talked about in the press conference.

“Teachers are nurturers,” said Superintendent Paul Puletti. “They probably won’t be willing to take a life… but they may be ready to safe a life.”

Superintendent Puletti stressed ultimately the school board must approve any plans. The earliest he can bring information to the board is March 27th, but it could take longer.

“We are purposely going very slowly in this process,” he said.

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