Wilton Manors Commissioner Julie Carson doesn’t want any more guns in schools even if they are being stored in a locked safe for use by a police officer in an emergency.
Carson voiced opposition to the proposal during a July 10 commission meeting when commissioners discussed installation of a gun safe at Wilton Manors Elementary for storage of a police officer’s long gun. The measure was ultimately approved.
Concern over the protection of students nationwide has been a hot button issue since the horrific February 14 massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School where a former student fatally shot 17 students and teachers.
“A locked gun at Wilton Manors Elementary … is not something I would want,” Carson said. She wondered if it would be better to store the gun in the officer’s car instead of bringing it inside the school.
Wilton Manors Police Chief Paul O’Connell said use of a gun locker has been approved by the School Board of Broward County and is included in a special provision in the school resource officer’s contract.
“It’s an unfortunate sign of the times to put it very simply and very bluntly,” O’Connell said.
“We had a demonstration at the Police Chiefs Association and I can assure you it’s been designed to be secure.”
The safe “alleviates the possibility of the SRO having to go out to his or her car to retrieve the long gun and then come back into the school and address whatever the threat is, he added.
Commissioner Scott Newton asked if O’Connell knew of any schools where school resource officers were routinely carrying long guns.
“No. The visuals don’t look good,” O’Connell replied.
Newton also questioned the effectiveness of a gun stored in a safe somewhere in the school, should an emergency arise. O’Connell said it was all about response time - retrieving a gun from a safe on campus or running out to a parked vehicle and retrieving the weapon.
Newton acknowleged that a gun might not be secure if stored in the officer’s police car.
The safe will be purchased with forfeiture funds, O’Connell said.