Florida Sheriff’s Office Suggests Arming School Janitors And Other Staffers To Combat Mass Shooters

Debates over arming school employees deepen in Florida over the suggested program, STOMP, and some are particularly concerned for black students.

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A Florida district is in turmoil over a proposal that would allow school staffers to be armed with guns so that they can jump into action if a school shooting were to occur. As NBC News reported, the Sheriff-Trained Onsite Marshal Program (STOMP), a program that would arm janitors and other staffers, was recently suggested by the Brevard County sheriff’s office. STOMP wouldn’t include teachers, but it would include full-time personnel, like custodians, principals, and cafeteria workers.

The idea was met with hundreds of school employees volunteering to also take on the part of school marshal. Seven hundred eligible school employees were polled on whether they would volunteer to be marshals, and according to Assistant Superintendent Matt Reed, close to 40 percent said they would be interested in volunteering. STOMP would require extensive training, including 80 hours of gun education, and would take place over the course of five weeks.

After the February school shooting in Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, debates deepened over gun control. As seen in the video below, President Donald Trump suggested that arming educators was part of the answer for school shootings, and that gun free zones are an invitation for an attack.

The president said that conceal and carry only works when people are experts at using firearms, and also suggested that these armed personnel should be teachers and coaches. But many experts disagreed with President Trump on that matter.

Photo of gun protests after Parkland, Florida school shootings
Participants take part in the March For Our Lives event, Saturday, March 24, 2018, in West Palm Beach, Fla.Featured image credit: Joe SkipperAssociated Press

As expected with the large school district of Brevard County, consisting of 75,000 students, STOMP has only increased the debates about gun control and arming school employees. Critics of STOMP are hoping that it fails before the school board votes next month. While many people feel that their children would be safer with school employees taking on the role of marshal, other parents feel that more guns would just add to the chaos if a tragic school shooting were to occur.

As Florida Today reported on April 6, some parents feel that arming school employees could be especially dangerous for black students; one mother, Belinda Hyppolite, is concerned for her 11-year-old daughter.

“This is not a good idea, the notion of an armed citizen carrying a weapon around our children when we can’t even trust the police to carry out an informed decision…black and brown kids are always being labeled as aggressive.”