Randy Fine and Lauren Book may be on opposite ends of the political spectrum but they found some common ground in Israel on school safety issues.
Fine, a Republican from Melbourne Beach, and Book, a Democrat from Plantation, met with the retired head of the North Jerusalem Police Department and visited the A.D. Gordon public school in Tel Aviv this week on their trip.
What they learned is that each school has two trained, armed security guards who receive regular training updates after their initial six-day training session. They are screened to make sure they are not child sex offenders.
The city is split into six regions, each with its own psychiatrist and security firm.
Here are their top takeaways after the tour:
Fine: “I think the focus on physical security by having a single point of entry in and out, and a six-foot high fence in all places, is number one.”
Book: “They do have a secondary exit, which is one of the things we talked about on the Douglas Commission. People are concerned about having only one way in and out. But they actually had one way in, two ways out – an exit that is actually manned by the other security personnel.”
Fine: “The second thing is a general comfort with personnel having guns inside the school. I think it’s a part of the culture in Israel with everyone having been in the military.”
Book: “One of the things that struck me, and we talked about it, they were very concerned about external threats coming in, not former students, not a student harming others. When we mentioned bringing in a weapon, they were like, ‘What are you talking about? That doesn’t happen here.’ I thought that was very interesting…”
Fine: “When you have a bomb shelter in your school, and it wasn’t like an antiseptic bomb shelter, it was like a scary looking bomb shelter. I think that’s a sobering thing that governs how everybody thinks about safety all the time.”
Book: “It’s a different company for each region, and there is also a psychologist for each region. If a student is displaying troublesome behaviors, that child goes to see that psychiatrist – if he falls through the cracks, if they need alternative placement for education. Because of all those things they have in place, Nicolas Cruz would never have gotten into that school because of the single point of entry, because that security guard is standing there.”
Fine: “There were a million warning signs. It’s pretty clear in the system they have here, they would have caught it. They would have addressed it and they would not have worried about the stigmatization and all of these other things that seem to stop us from catching these issues.”
Are these things we can do in Florida?
Book: “There is a want, a will, a wish and a desire to keep kids safe. What is most important is making sure we have single points of entry. Is that going to be a difficult thing to do?”
Fine: “You’ve got to build new schools. You just can’t solve 100 percent of the problems, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.”