Sane Progressive: Police seeking power to preemptively detain people on social media postings
Polk Sheriff Grady Judd to Fla. Legislature: Act now to prevent school shootings
19 February, 2018
WINTER HAVEN — Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd announced Saturday that he has been working with state senators, the governor and other sheriffs to introduce legislation this session aimed at preventing mass shootings and, when shootings occur, reducing casualties.
“The Legislature can act on behalf of children and give us the tools to reduce probabilities of an active shooter slaughtering our children. Nothing is 100 percent, but we need to have tools,” said Judd, who last week became president of the Major County Sheriffs of America association.
Judd, who would not identify which legislators he has been working with, said legislative staff currently is working on a bill or bills to introduce before the current session ends in three weeks.
Judd said the approach is two-pronged:
‒ Broaden law enforcement’s powers to take dangerous, mentally ill people into custody as prevention against mass violence. Under the current Baker Act, a person can be taken into custody for a mental health evaluation for up to 72 hours if an officer sees evidence the person is a danger to self or others. Judd said that under the proposal, law enforcement would be able to act if there were obvious danger signs, such as texts and messages with violent ramblings and postings of blood, gore and threatening poses with weapons. Guns could be confiscated until the person is deemed to no longer be a threat, he said.
‒ Empower specially trained school staff to carry concealed weapons on campus to respond to an active shooter. The legislation would be based on the Sheriff’s Sentinel Program that Judd established at Southeastern University last year and which, he said, has gone through legal review.
Judd said he had been coordinating with Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County, where 17 people died in a massacre at Parkland High School on Wednesday. On Thursday, Israel asked state and federal lawmakers to broaden the powers under the Baker Act to allow officers to detain a person because of graphic pictures of blood, gore, guns and bombs on social media.
On Saturday, Judd added to Israel’s earlier pleas, saying, “every man and woman in the state needs to text, email or write their legislators to pressure them to give law enforcement more tools, more latitude in responding to mental illness and Baker Act cases” and “to give more latitude if all other interventions fail to allow trained, vetted men and women to carry concealed weapons on campus to intervene with an active shooter.”
There is a need to have carefully trained, armed responders on campus, Judd said, because statistically, active-shooter events are over in two to five minutes — in Broward County, the shooting was over in three minutes. The average response time for law enforcement is five minutes, Judd said.
“911 does not work when there is an active shooter,” Judd said, because by the time law enforcement arrives, the shooting typically is over. And while there may be one or two school resource officers on a campus, an active shooter situation calls for convergence from several armed good guys, he said.
Judd has deputized nine members of Southeastern University’s staff as special deputies, empowering them to carry concealed weapons on campus and respond if there is an active shooter. They have no authority in a law-enforcement capacity other than to respond to a deadly threat.
Before Judd deputized the volunteers last summer, each had completed 132 hours of training, which included 80 hours of firearms training and eight hours simulating active-shooter situations. And they were vetted with criminal-background checks, drug testing and psychological evaluations.
As a sheriff with the power to deputize, Judd said he can start similar program at other schools in the county if the schools request it. However, only Southeastern University took him up on the offer, he said.
“It is up to the state Legislature to provide leadership,” and provide a framework for other law enforcement agencies to establish sentinel programs with highly vetted, trained volunteers, Judd said.