TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — While many Tampa Bay area schools have plans in place to prevent or deal with a school shooting, what about after school programs?

The Boys and Girls Club, known nationwide for its quality of after-school care, is actively stepping up security protocol for its Pinellas County locations thanks to a free program offered by the Pinellas Park Police Department.

When we visited the Pinellas Park center, we quickly found out anyone entering the front doors of this club must abide by a set of guidelines.

  • Be kind to others.
  • Share
  • Use your ‘inside’ voice.

Makenzie Mack has been coming here after school for almost four years. She says the daily structure here gives her comfort. “What’s your favorite part? About me being safe here,” she says.

But even with the current curriculum of security measures, staff members are striving to step it up a notch to protect the more than 400 kids attending all six of Pinellas County’s after school clubs.

Mandy Burnette is the Chief Operating Officer of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Suncoast. “So we’re really taking a hard look at our policies and procedures. What we’re hoping to get out of this is to have a really solid plan in place,” he said.

“The first after school program and even the only one that’s reached out to us so far is The Boys and Girls Club,” according to Sgt. Taichiang Ku with the Pinellas Park Police Department. He says the police department offers free training to any local organization asking for advice and safety suggestions.

Sgt. Ku’s first plan of action with the club will be to teach them the run, hide and fight concept. Then he says he’ll take it one step further by preparing them to deal with what happens post-tragedy, “We also talk about things that are going to happen after. This is not going to be over in ten or fifteen minutes as we’re seeing in south Florida.”

They’ll also specialize a program specifically designed to prepare the kids. Sgt. Ku says, “Because you definitely don’t want to scare the children, but you want to inform the children so that’s something we would work with the staff with on those specifics.”

But until that happens, little Miss Makenzie already has her own emergency plan. She says, “I know if someone is armed or has a knife, I can go out that door, that door, or that door.”

The Pinellas Park Police Department program follows procedures from The Department of Homeland Security. But again, they personalize each program to accommodate the policies and layout of each individual organization.STORIES OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON-