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Jackson County implements Guardian Program

Posted at 5:17 PM, Sep 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-25 17:17:52-04

JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. — An effort to make school shootings a thing of the past Governor Ron Desantis signed legislation earlier this year that would allow administrators and other staff members to volunteer as Armed Guardians.

As of this year, Jackson County is now on-board with the Guardian Program.

JCSO also just launched a new program known as CAD, which gives employees within the school system access to an app they can push to send emergency alerts to law enforcement in case of an emergency.

Deputies at JCSO are feeling confident that this program will help keep children safe at school. One local principal is excited for what the program has to offer.

"The more eyes and hands we can have on deck, I think is vital to the safety of our students," said Eddie Ellis, Mariana Middle School Principal.

On a daily basis, there are more than 700 people inside Marianna Middle School, including teachers and students.

"I am constantly worrying about them as far as safety is concerned-- especially being an open campus like our campus," said Ellis.

This year, the Jackson County School Board voted in favor of bringing specialized guardians to selected schools in the county, with Marianna Middle School being one of them.

The principal overall thinks the program is beneficial to his students' safety and peace of mind.

"Being more relaxed in the educational environment, they are more conducive for learning," said Ellis.

Deputies at JCSO acknowledge that some people might not be comfortable with the idea of having armed guardians at schools.

They want to assure the community that they are doing everything they can to make sure the guardians are prepared to handle an active shooter situation.

"They have precision shooting training, they have active shooter training, defensive tactic training, ethics training, and legal training. So all of that accumulates to 144 hours of training they have to do," said Kevin Arnold, Patrol Captain at JCSO.

So far, 16 people have volunteered to be guardians. That's in addition to the five open-carry guardians already in the county.