Local school leaders react to new safety bill

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Bay District Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt and Bay District Schools Chief of Police Mike Jones held a press conference Thursday afternoon to express their thoughts on a new safety bill that would change the way guns are purchased and carried in public schools.

Both officials say Senate Bill 7026 or the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act is a step in the right direction, but it's not perfect.

The bill would allow coaches, R.O.T.C. [Reserve Officers' Training Corps] officials, administrators and qualified teachers to be armed on campus.

Superintendent Husfelt says the bill is a good compromise between both sides of the argument.

"They did listen to everybody and they did make some compromising agreements which they got passed. I consider everything in that bill to be beneficial to us," Husfelt said.

Chief Jones says he's concerned it could put targets on those who would be allowed to carry on campus.

"By them narrowing it down now to: it's gotta be a coach or an R.O.T.C person, you make them a bigger target and that's what I've worried about this whole time, if they just came out and said only administrators or principals, guess who's going to get shot first," Jones said.

Both officials also say they're glad mental health was addressed in the bill and hope to see more efforts go toward that aspect of school safety.

They also tell us if the bill is signed by Governor Rick Scott, it's still up to the school board to determine whether they want it implemented in Bay County.

Chief Jones says regardless if they choose to implement it or not, school leaders are still pushing to have an armed officer at every school in the district.