POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – In an effort to protect against active shooters, Polk County employees now have the opportunity to carry a firearm at work after a “workplace marshal plan” was approved by commissioners Tuesday.
“We’re living in a new normal. This is not the world you and I grew up in,” said Sheriff Grady Judd to the commissioners.
The sheriff said he was approached by a commissioner after twelve people were killed in a workplace shooting at a Virginia Beach government building in May.
“Commissioner Hall called me up, said ‘I got an idea. I think we need to put someone in our county buildings that’s well trained and armed to protect the community’,” said Judd.
The marshal plan is similar to the guardian program in Florida schools, which allows certified staff to carry firearms on campus.
It’s a volunteer program. Concealed permit holders will have to complete 132 hours of firearms training.
“The people that are employed by the Board of County commissioners will go through 25% more firearms training than even is required of a certified police officer in the state of Florida and they’ll qualify at 5 points higher,” said Sheriff Judd.
Marshals will also have to undergo background checks, a psychological evaluation, drug tests, and return for quarterly training every year.
“The reaction so far has been very positive so we expect quite a number of folks to volunteer,” said George Lindsey, county commissioner.
Lindsey said it will not be made public which government building has a certified marshal.
Offices lead by elected officials (clerk of the court, property appraiser, tax collector, supervisor of elections and the sheriff’s office) have autonomy and the officials can decide if they want their offices to participate in the program, according to Lindsey.
“Hopefully the guardian and the marshals in these situations will be the first line of offense if there’s an armed incident in a county facility,” said Lindsey.