Palmetto, FL School Hires Well-Armed Combat Veterans to Protect Students
Florida State legislation requires schools to have at least one “safe school” guardian on campus. A Palmetto School, Manatee School for the Arts, has gone one better- they’ve hired two combat veterans with semi-automatic weapons to protect their students from harm.
“We’re not looking for a fair fight. We’re looking at an overwhelming advantage.” Principal Bill Jones
The school has hired two men, the first a 15 year Infantry veteran named Harold Verdecia. The Principal stated he “wouldn’t hire anyone who hadn’t been shot at and fired back.” The second “safe school” officer will come on board at the end of February.
Florida’s guardian program is not like the school resource officer program.
The Herald Tribune wrote:
“Harold Verdecia, 39, was an infantryman in the U.S. Army, completing tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has been shot at, and he has fired back.
“That’s just the job,” he said.
Now he patrols the hallways of Manatee School for the Arts, strapped with a Kel-Tec “Bullpup” rifle and a Glock 19X. Verdecia isn’t there to get to know the kids, break up fights or do the typical community-policing that school resource officers typically do, said MSA Principal Bill Jones.
Verdecia has one job: Stop an active shooter.”
Verdecia had to complete 144 hours of training with the Manatee County Sheriff’s office, and other training to be authorized to carry a rifle. (Never mind his Infantry experience). While most schools are trained with 9mm Glocks, Charter schools have the option to choose the firearms. Verdeica is required to patrol without a round in the chamber.
There are about 2,000 students at MSA, and Verdecia makes about $50,000 per year. Until his partner comes on board, he is the most heavily armed “guardian” in Florida.
“Assault rifles, whether you are for them or against them, are prolific in our society. Lord knows how many assault-type rifles are out there. So why would we not want the school guardian to have parity with that potential threat?” Palmetto Police Chief Scott Tyler
While most seem favorable to the armed patrol, others whine about the semi-automatic weapon. But the school Principal has gone over and over the possibilities, settling on the current program. And the occasional whiner is not stopping him from protecting his students.
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