CBS This Morning on Wednesday did what most media outlets won’t do: It took a serious look at efforts to arm teachers and other staff as a way to stop school shootings. Reporter Adrianna Diaz explained how Florida’s School Safety Guardian program will work: “Armed with real guns and real bullets, these everyday people like a minister, former teacher, and retired police officer are training to take down a potential school shooter.”
Co-host Gayle King informed viewers: “They have the job now protecting students and teachers on campuses that do not have their own school resource officers, who are sheriff deputies.” Former teacher Kimberly Hall, who is applying for the program, stated the goal: “I'm tired of hearing teachers having to give their lives to protect students. We're going to be there to engage. You will not have to. We will run to that threat while you take care of what you need to.”
Now, while Diaz should be commended for taking this subject seriously, the network also offered the very typical liberal angle when talking to members of the program. Talking to the co-creators of the program, she fretted: “What about parents who are uncomfortable with more guns on campus or any guns on campus?”
Sheriff Grady Judd bluntly responded what they hope to accomplish: “To be well trained, to react within seconds, to find the active shooter and kill him graveyard dead before he can hurt your child with a gun.”
Diaz reiterated the liberal concern: “We're talking about civilians here, not sheriffs, deputies or police officers." Talking to Hall, she tried the same argument:
ADRIANA DIAZ: What do you say when people say this brings guns into schools, which is dangerous?
KIMBERLY HALL (former teacher): I kindly remind them guns are already being brought into the schools and that’s much more dangerous.
Still, kudos to CBS for at least acknowledging a solution on shootings that isn’t just more gun control.
A transcript is below. Click “expand” to read more:
GAYLE KING: A new program in central Florida is training people to stop potential shooters. School safety guardians is what they're calling them. They have the job now protecting students and teachers on campuses that do not have their own school resource officers, who are sheriff deputies. A state law passed after the deadly shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School gives district the option to arm certain teachers, school staff or the so-called school safety guardians. the Adriana Diaz is in Bartow, Florida. That’s east of Tampa where future guardians are now being trained.
ADRIANA DIAZ: Adrianna, good morning. The guardians, who are normal people, not officers of the law, have been here morning until night training. Many told us they're doing it because they have kids in the school system and they're worried about their safety. Guardians will earn $30,000 a year. That's less than school resource officer. And that difference will allow every school in the district to have an armed guard. Armed with real guns and real bullets, these everyday people like a minister, former teacher, and retired police officer are training to take down a potential school shooter.
KIMBERLY HALL (former teacher): I'm tired of hearing teachers having to give their lives to protect students. We're going to be there to engage. You will not have to. We will run to that threat while you take care of what you need to.
DIAZ: Why shouldn't that responsibility fall on law enforcement? You're a former law enforcement officer.
JOHNNY THOMAS (Retired Polk County Sheriff’s office): We need more people to step up and get into this function of protecting our children.
DIAZ: You're a minister. Why did you decide to do this?
STEPHEN BOLDEN (minister): Well, I have three small children in the school system. My wife is a teacher. I want to make sure those children have the safest, best quality, education.
DIAZ: This is a world away from church.
BOLDEN: Absolutely, absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED: Change your targets out for me please.
DIAZ: Candidates for the guardian program have to pass background and psychological checks before an intensive six-week course that involves fire arms training, precision shooting, and virtual and live active shooter scenarios. Only the candidates who score high enough in tactical and written tests will be placed in one of the Polk County’s 85 elementary schools this fall . Andrew Pollack, whose daughter was killed at the Parkland school shooting, has been with it from the start.
ANDREW POLLACK: These kids are going to be safer now from what I accomplished and hopefully the rest of the country is going to see what we did in Polk County, and they're going to lead by example.
DIAZ: The Polk County program was created by sheriff Grady Judd and school superintendent Jacqueline Byrd. What about parents who are uncomfortable with more guns on campus or any guns on campus?
GRADY JUDD: Those parents need to wake up and understand this is the new normal. This is the last, best chance to save your child when all the different layers of security have failed, and their job is simply this. To be well trained, to react within seconds, to find the active shooter, and kill him graveyard dead before he can hurt your child with a gun.
DIAZ: We're talking about civilians here, not sheriffs, deputies or police officers.
JUDD: Everybody we hire in this industry starts out as a civilian. These folks are starting as civilians, but when they finish their training, they're going to be better trained with more hours at a higher proficiency than a state certified police officer.
JACQUELINE BYRD: When you see what's happening around our nation and our schools, you just wonder, is it ever going to be here in Polk county? I know I have to do something that ensures that as each parent sends me their child, I have someone there to make sure they're safe.
ANNETTE RISING (parent)I come from a time when we didn’t have to worry about guns. Schools weren't on lock down. Things, I know, have evolved.
DIAZ: Some parents like Annette rising are concerned. When you drop your daughter off for the first day of school in the fall, how are you going to feel knowing that someone there carries a gun?
RISING: Probably a little anxious.
DIAZ: What do you say when people say this brings guns into schools, which is dangerous?
HALL: I kindly remind them guns are already being brought into the schools and that’s much more dangerous.
DIAZ: Are you prepared to potentially kill someone if there is a threat?
BOLDEN: At the end of this training, I believe we'll be ready to do what we have to do to stop that threat. Yes.
DIAZ: Despite your background as a minister?
BOLDEN: I'm human. I have to protect my family as anyone does and I'm going to protect life the best way I can.
DIAZ: The program was named after Aaron Feiss, the assistant football coach at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School who died while protecting his students. His wife will be here later today to meet the men and women who are training to be guardians in the name of her husband. John?