Metal detectors and guards to run them will be posted at the entrances to all Palm Beach County public schools, if several local mayors have their way.
The mayors from Boynton Beach, Riviera Beach, Lake Park and Magnolia Park revealed their “peace plan” to present the county school board with such a petition at its next meeting on Jan. 16. They made the announcement Tuesday at a rally to raise awareness against gun violence at Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Riviera Beach, where more than 60 people joined in a brief two-block march near the church, symbolically walking behind a black hearse.
They were joined by state Rep. Bobby Powell (D-Riviera Beach) and a representative from the office of U.S Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Miramar), who spoke at the church after the march, all in support of installing metal detectors at schools.
“This is something that we need to do,” said Riviera Beach mayor Thomas Masters.
This initiative had been in the works for more than a month, Masters said, when the world learned of the Dec. 14 massacre at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, where a gunman entered the school and shot to death 27 people—most of whom were kindergarteners—before killing himself.
“It’s time we stop putting our kids in the ground and start picking them up,” Powell said during the rally.
The suggestion of added security would not be unprecedented in Florida. Last week, the Alachua County school board and sheriff’s department were considering a measure to post armed deputies in the 12 elementary schools that lie outside Gainesville city limits for the duration of the school day.
Masters said the mayors will have collected “hundreds, if not thousands” of signatures they will present to the school board this month.
“Until we, as a people, come together to do something, nothing’s going to get done,” said Boynton Beach mayor Woodrow Hay said.
Moreover, President Barack Obama came out in favor of a ban on assault weapons, and the Palm Beach County mayors have echoed their support in a statement of principles from the organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns (www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org), which other county mayors have been asked to sign.
Within those statement of principles is a pledge to “develop and used technologies that aid in the detection” of guns, such as metal detectors.
Masters said he recently attended the memorials in Connecticut of several children at Sandy Hook Elementary who were killed in the Newtown shooting. The parents of one child, Grace McDonnell, 7, gave him a purple wrist band which he wore as he spoke to those inside Mt. Olive Baptist.
“We have to do what we can to make sure this never happens in a Palm Beach County school,” Masters said. “I’m more determined than every before.”