JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed “Alyssa’s Law” on Tuesday, mandating silent panic buttons in public schools across the state. The law requires all public school teachers and staffers to have mobile panic buttons installed as an app on their phones.
The bill’s named after Alyssa Alhadeff, one of 17 people who were shot and killed in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas in 2018. Alhadeff was 14.
Zach Kindy, a Jacksonville gun violence prevention advocate, has firsthand experience with gun violence in schools.
He was first affected by it at Episcopal School of Jacksonville in 2012, when fired Spanish teacher Shane Schumerth returned to school with an AK-47 in a guitar case.
“When I was in seventh grade, a Spanish teacher got fired and came back with an AK-47 and over 100 rounds of ammo in a guitar case and ended up shooting and killing our headmaster and himself,” Kindy said.
Headmaster Dale Regan was shot and killed.
Kindy tells Action News Jax he was also impacted by the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas mass shooting in 2018.
“I was going to hang out with some of my friends in Parkland, when I got the call that there had been a shooting at their school, and then found out a little later that one of my friends was shot and killed,” Kindy said.
He says that friend was 17-year-old Joaquin Oliver, and tells us he has since become friends with Joaquin’s father, Manuel.
Kindy considers Alyssa’s Law a step in the right direction when it comes to law enforcement being alerted to dangerous situations as quickly as possible. However, he feels lawmakers have more work to do.
“I would just like to see more preventative measures; we shouldn’t have to make this the new normal,” Kindy said.
Action News Jax reached out to Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) asking how and when “Alyssa’s Law” will be implemented locally, and to what extent silent panic buttons may exist presently within schools around Jacksonville.
DCPS chief of marketing and public relations, Tracy Pierce, replied with the following statement.
“Under Florida Law, any information about our security procedures or protocols is confidential,” said Pierce. “… I can tell you that we will take necessary steps to be in compliance with the law and to ensure that all relevant staff are trained as appropriate.”
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