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Sheriff, school police chief, superintendent talk school safety

Discussion moderated by WPTV's Michael Williams
Posted: 7:38 PM, Apr 06, 2018
Updated: 2018-04-07 13:50:20Z

The tragedy in Parkland has forced the nation to focus on school safety.

On Friday, three people who play a major role in keeping your children safe came together to share their ideas.

The discussion involved Palm Beach County Sheriff Rick Bradshaw, Palm Beach County Schools police chief Lawrence Leon and school district superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy. All shared their thoughts, fears and desires when it comes to preventing massacres and other tragedies.

"I'd rather prevent something than respond to it," said Sheriff Bradshaw, as the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches  luncheon kicked off.

Nothing was off the table during the discussion, which was moderated by NewsChannel 5 anchor Michael Williams.

"To wonder, what would it feel like if I went home today and I didn't know where my children were?" said Superintendent Fennoy.

Sheriff Bradshaw and Chief Leon shared a strong stance on arming teachers.

"You've got to have uniformed law enforcement officers at the schools -- not teachers -- with guns. It doesn't work like that," said Sheriff Bradshaw.

"Don't arm teachers. They need to teach," echoed Chief Leon.

Weeks after Parkland, Florida lawmakers voted to set aside $99 million for school safety upgrades.

"When it comes to the physical hardening of schools, how hard is that to do?" asked Williams.

Leon replied, "That campus was say, built in the 1980s. When you open up an envelope, you have to build it up to building code of the current times. And that changes the whole focus. And sometimes takes a little delay."

Superintendent Fennoy said nearly 200 school safety projects will be kicking off this summer.

"There will be a lot of security measures: single point of entry, roofs, fencing," he said.

All three agree: School safety also falls on the communities we live in.

"Society is changing. We're not raising our children as a community any longer," said Supt. Fennoy.

"Quit being part of the silent majority," Sheriff Bradshaw told the audience during closing comments. "You know what's going on in your schools, in your neighborhoods. I'd rather go to ten calls where nothing happens and get one there."

The district chief says after the Parkland shooting, they investigated more than 120 social media threats.

They're hoping the PBC StudentProtect smartphone app can help, which allows students and parents to report any concerns about any person anonymously.  The app is only for Palm Beach County schools but Gov. Rick Scott has expressed interest in taking the concept statewide.

So far, the app has 10,000 downloads. Click here for more information .