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PCSO News Release

Media Contact:
Wilder, Scott

Director, Office of Communications 
News Date: 12/16/2016 

 The Polk County Sheriff's Office and Southeastern University partner to develop innovative, new, one-of-a-kind program to enhance campus security and safety 


“In addition to all the training, threat assessments, individual intervention, and technology we have invested into our security programs, we know one more critical thing we can do to reduce the number of lives impacted in an active assailant incident is a shorter response time for the good guys to interrupt and stop the bad guy.”Grady Judd, Sheriff   

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with Southeastern University, is establishing the Sheriff’s Sentinel Program to enhance the safety of an already safe and secure community of students, faculty, staff, and guests at the University’s campus in Lakeland. The Sheriff’s Sentinel program is a unique, innovative, and first of its kind program in the nation that will provide comprehensive and professional law enforcement training to select university faculty and staff members that will enable them to carry a concealed firearm for the purpose of rapidly responding to an active assailant on campus to stop a potential deadly threat. 

“The safety of our students, faculty, and staff is a paramount concern for us at Southeastern University. We are excited about this new program that will result in well trained staff being available on campus to rapidly respond to any active assailant threat. We are committed to providing the safest learning environment possible for our University community.”Dr. Kent Ingle, President, Southeastern University 

According to a United States Department of Justice study, between the years 2000 and 2013 there were 160 “active shooter” incidents in the US. “Active shooter” is defined as: “An individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area with a firearm.”    

Key takeaways of the DOJ study include:

  • There were 6.4 incidents per year on average between 2000 and 2006.
  • There were 16.4 incidents per year on average between 2007 and 2013.
  • 70% of the 160 incidents occurred in either a commerce/business or educational setting—39 were in an education environment.
  • 107 of these incidents ended BEFORE police arrived to engage the shooter. In 25 of the 107 incidents, the shooters fled the scene before law enforcement arrived.
  • 64 of the 160 incidents (where an accurate timeline could be established) were over in 5 minutes or less.
  • Incidents at educational facilities account for some of the higher incident casualty counts, to include Virginia Tech (32 killed, 17 wounded) and Sandy Hook Elementary School (26 killed, 2 wounded).

Key components of the Sheriff’s Sentinel Program are:

  • Faculty and staff are selected by the University for the Program and screened by PCSO staff, including criminal background checks, drug testing, and a psychological evaluation.
  • Sheriff’s Sentinels will be appointed by the Sheriff as volunteer “Special Deputies” for the limited purpose of providing security on Southeastern University’s campus during an active assailant incident, defined as: “a situation in which an armed assailant is posing an immediate deadly threat to people on the premises of Southeastern University.”
  • Why Special Deputies? To take advantage of PCSO professional training and to provide a legal mechanism for staff and faculty to carry a concealed firearm on campus. (Florida State Statues, Chapter 30)
  • The Special Deputy Sheriffs shall have no authority to act in any law enforcement capacity outside of a deadly threat active assailant incident on campus and shall have no authority in a law enforcement capacity off campus in any way.
  • Special Deputy Sheriffs in the Sentinel Program are authorized to carry concealed, approved firearms on campus. The firearms will be specifically purchased and issued for the sole purpose of the Sentinel Program. Only PCSO approved concealed carry safety holsters and firearms will be used in the program.
  • Special Deputy Sheriffs in the Sentinel Program will be required to successfully complete training with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Training Section prior to his or her appointment, which will consist of 100 hours of comprehensive firearm safety and proficiency training. 

Special Deputy Sheriff Sentinel Program Training: (132 total hours)

  • Firearms: 80 hour block of instruction. This firearms training is based on the CJSTC law enforcement academy training model. A typical academy student will fire approximately 1,000 training rounds during the academy. The Sentinel Program Training will include 10-20% more rounds fired for each participant.
  • Firearms: Precision Pistol / 16 hour block of instruction.
  • Firearms Discretionary Shooting: 4 hour block of instruction using state of the art simulator exercises.
  • Active Shooter/Assailant: 8 hour block of instruction.
  • Defensive Tactics: 4 hour block of instruction.
  • Legal / High Liability: 20 hour block of instruction.
  • All training will be conducted by CJSTC-certified instructors.
  • Ongoing and annual proficiency retraining will be conducted by the PCSO.
  • Higher Standards: The 100 hour block of firearms instruction is 25% more instruction than the equivalent block of CJSTC law enforcement firearms instruction deputies receive (80 hours). Additionally, Sentinel Program participants will be required to pass the firearms training at an 85% pass rate compared to the CJSTC standard of an 80% pass rate. The 16 hour precision pistol course is additional training (not required for deputy sheriffs). The 4 hour block discretionary shooting instruction is a separate training for the Sentinel Program (in addition to the 80 hour block of instruction). Sentinels will receive 8 hours of active shooter/assailant training (deputies receive 6 hours training).  

Participation in the Sentinel Program may be denied or terminated by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office for any reason, including:

  • Any arrest or filing of criminal charges against the participant by a law enforcement agency;
  • Having been served as the respondent of an injunction for protection;
  • Having been involuntarily placed in a treatment facility for a mental health examination under the Baker Act;
  • A serious violation of PCSO General Orders;
  • A serious violation of the Southeastern University Employee Handbook/Policy.

  Additional Details

  • The Director of Safety & Security will maintain documentation of the weapon and equipment inspections, as well as the Sentinel participants’ training, certification, inspection and qualification records.
  • Sentinel participants will be required to be clearly visually identified (for the benefit of responding law enforcement officers, faculty, staff, and students) in the case of any active assailant incident.
  • Sentinel Program awareness training will be conducted for all SEU staff members.
  • Each Sentinel will be required to execute a volunteer agreement with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office outlining duties and responsibilities.
  • Costs of the program shall be determined by contract between Southeastern University and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.  

Southeastern University and Polk County Sheriff’s Office strategic partnership 

In October, 2014, Southeastern University and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office entered into an agreement to provide law enforcement security management for the university designed to enhance the safety and security of students, faculty, and staff.  The partnership provides that the Director of Safety & Security will be a sworn law enforcement officer at the rank of Lieutenant and dual reports to the University and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. The rest of the security team includes a PCSO Sergeant and an allocation of full time, part time, and contracted security officers who work at the campus to provide 24-hour safety and security.  

Scott Wilder, Director of Communications Polk County Sheriff's Office 863-288-6299 / 863-698-6174 swilder@polksheriff.org  

Dana C. Davis Executive Director for University Advancement 863.667.5020 (office) dcdavis@seu.edu