The DCPS Chief of School Police says that the gun culture of violence in our society is a large reason why schools need such high levels of security.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Friday was the last day of school in Duval County, and as students and teachers say goodbye to the school year, the top cop in the district is reflecting back on safety in his schools.
He says keeps schools safe begins far from the buildings.
“Our schools are designed to prevent someone from coming in,” says Gregory Burton, Duval County Public Schools Chief of School Police. But Burton adds that his department isn’t always facing a physical problem.
“We can not regulate or legislate the heart of the mind,” says Chief Burton, “it has to be a change of culture in our society.”
According to the State Attorney’s Office, there was a 43 percent increase in murders in Jacksonville over the last year. Burton says it impacts schools.
“We have a gun culture here, and it’s not going away,” says Burton. “We have a culture of violence and unless we do something to address that, the heart and the mind, we will see these incidents around the country.”
Burton says that all 152 public schools in Duval County have a 130-page document specific to each school that details safety protocols during situations like active shooting scenarios.
Direct action plans within those documents are kept confidential to preserve their effectiveness.
And while physical safety is the priority, Burton says compassion for the kids going through active shooter drills has to be taken into account.
“How do we balance these drills with educating our children and ensuring young people are not horrified on a daily basis?” said Burton. “We have to figure out how do we conduct these drills without a student’s mind being on ‘am I going to be hurt in school’ instead of ‘how was I going to learn my lesson?”
Every school in the DCPS system has a combination of four types of armed guards in the building and at sporting events at all times.
“We’re doing everything we can possibly do to prevent these incidents from happening in Duval County,” says Burton.
He just needs some help from people outside of school first.