Leaders react to Ivey’s school safety proposal

Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey took to social media last week in a 12-minute video that details the four “layers of protection” in his proposed school security plan, including how volunteer school marshals would be vetted and trained.

The video was posted to the sheriff’s office Facebook page.

“As a father, lifelong law enforcement officer, citizen and the sheriff of Brevard County, I’m absolutely convinced that we must take action right now to do everything possible to stop the next school shooting from happening,” Ivey said in the video.

The first layer of Ivey’s plan calls for more education and awareness through increased active shooter training for both students and school staff, an app that would allow the anonymous reporting of any perceived school threat, and a continued program to target at-risk students. Layer two focuses on physical security of school buildings – things like making sure all classroom doors lock from the inside and that all schools have security cameras. The third part calls for a school resource officer in every school, but acknowledges that might not be possible due to budget constraints.

There are currently 37 school resource officers for the 88 schools in Brevard County. No one can yet say where the money would come from to pay for 51 additional SROs.

That’s where layer four comes in, the Sheriff Trained Onsite Marshall Program, or “STOMP” as Ivey calls it. It’s also referred to by some as the guardian program. Under this part of Ivey’s plan, school staff could volunteer to be trained as armed security personnel. There would be no requirement that every school have armed staff.

Dan Bennett, president of the Brevard County Federation of Teachers, disagrees with arming staff in any form. He said school staff already have enough on their plate and “cannot take on the additional responsibility of acting as armed security.”

“The guardian program is a non-solution,” Bennett said. “Putting at least one SRO in every school is an actual effective solution. If funds are tight, the sheriff, superintendent and school board should be educating the community about the need for additional revenue.”

School board member Tina Descovich said the board is still working out details of executing the plan, including exact costs and funding options. A vote could come as early as May, she said.

There is little debate about parts one through three of Ivey’s plan. Descovich said she has not heard from anyone who doesn’t support those initiatives. The STOMP program is more controversial, but Descovich is clear on where she stands. “I believe in that level of security,” Descovich said.

She cited the fact that volunteer marshals would be required to undergo 176 hours of training before assuming their duties, and also pointed to Ivey’s assertion that the training would be even more comprehensive than that provided to full-time deputies.

“Sheriff Ivey’s plan is extremely thorough,” Descovich said. “It’s very extensive. Someone would have to be extremely committed to take five whole weeks out of their summer (to train for the program).”

Descovich is encouraging constituents to share their opinions on the plan, either by attending school board meetings or reaching out to her and other board members via email.

She also said she expects there to be one or more public forums or town-hall style meetings with teachers and school staff members on the issue before it is voted on.

Members of the public are invited to speak during the comments portion of every school board meeting, and the number of speakers has increased at the past two meetings.  The speakers have included students who have addressed the board regarding school security. The next board meeting is at 5:30 p.m. April 17 at the district offices, 2700 Judge Fran Jamieson Way in Viera.

Descovich said reaction she has personally received to the STOMP program has been evenly divided for and against.

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