DEFUNIAK SPRINGS — Governor Rick Scott stopped in Northwest Florida Feb. 28 to promote his $500 million school safety plan.
The governor met with sheriffs from five area counties at the Walton County Sheriff’s Office in Defuniak Springs on Feb. 28, the first day Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students returned to school following the Feb. 14 mass shooting at the school.
What happened at Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Fla. has reinvigorated the national conversation on school safety. Gun control, mental health and increasing security within schools are among a range of issues being discussed. Scott called on experts in these fields for input.
The visit was part of the governor’s statewide tour to talk about his plan to increase school safety. Scott stood alongside law enforcement officers to do so.
“The money will be spent really primarily in three areas: more law enforcement, significant law enforcement presence at all of our schools; mental health counselors at our schools; hardening of all of our schools; and on top of that, some money for Department of Children and Families to have more teams to go out and work with our youth,” Scott said.
Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson introduced Governor Scott.
“What you have here is a united, dedicated front saying we believe the proposal made by Governor Rick Scott is the most significant improvement to the safety and well-being of our children proposed in my 25-year career,” Adkinson said.
The governor said that the state has the money to fund the $500 million dollar proposal and that it was important to pass the legislation during the current session.
Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley was one of the area sheriffs invited to appear with the governor. Ashley was enthusiastic about the plan and appreciated that the governor took the input of local sheriffs into account in developing the plan. Ashley said addressing this issue is vital to maintaining the public’s trust that children will be safe attending public schools.
“Every parent in the state—every parent in our country—should be very comfortable when they send their child to school; their child is going to come home safely,” Scott said.