Safety experts encourage Guardian Program for added school safety

Published: May. 26, 2022 at 9:51 PM EDT
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In the two days since the Texas tragedy, people nationwide are assessing just what can be done to keep students safe.

Johnny Price, a school safety trainer in Waco, Texas, said many schools in Texas are in rural towns with limited budgets.

Price works with training teachers who are often in place to respond, with a focus on stopping dangerous intruders immediately.

"A good guy with a gun is definitely a way, and sometimes the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun," said Johnny Price, the owner of Big Iron Handgun License Training.

Price focuses on guardian training for teachers so they can carry a gun on campus.

"They're not walking around like guns-hoe pistol-packing cowboys from the 1880s with their sidearm on their hip looking for the next fight. They're doing everything they can. They don't want to be carrying it," said Price. "They step up to the plate because they realize if they don't, who will?"

Price said all Texas schools do not have an officer on campus. So, each year, he certifies about 1,500 people on active-shooter prevention.

The week of the Uvalde shooting, he received an increase in school districts requesting training, as well as hands-on training with students to defend themselves in any means possible.

"What we have found traveling around the country working with school districts is, the majority of the school districts have a crisis plan or have an all-hazard kind of approach," said Curtis Lavarello with the School Safety Advisory Council. "Unfortunately, the plans are only as good as the training and the implementation of the plan."

Florida schools are required to have an armed resource officer on every campus and can implement the Guardian Program.

St Lucie Public Schools does not use the Guardian Program but has certified law enforcement, deputies and officers on all campuses.

High schools have two law enforcement officers assigned to them.

St. Lucie County schools also hold active-shooter or code red drills at least monthly at every school as required by the Florida Department of Education.

Lavarello said parents too can play a big role to "see something, say something."

"Law enforcement, when I was in it for 25 years, we would rather investigate 100 false leads than miss the one that turns out to be something," said Lavarello.

To be a guardian in Florida, a person must pass psychological and drug screenings, as well as 144 hours of training.

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