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In Lakeland, FL, the faculty of Southeastern University is working with the Polk County Sheriff’s Officer to roll out the first “Sentinel Program” in the Sunshine State. The Sheriff’s Office said the program, which aims to enhance safety for everyone on campus, will not only authorize, but also train university employees to carry concealed firearms on campus.

“We are committed to providing the safest learning environment possible for our university community,” said Dr. Kent Ingle, President of Southeastern University, who is excited about the program.

After the university identifies the staff to carry, they will be screened by PCSO staff with criminal background checks, drug testing and a psychological evaluation. The staff members who pass the first screening process will then go through 132 hours of training with Sheriff’s Office, including nine blocks of instruction on firearms, active shooters and defensive tactics totaling 100 hours of firearms training alone. That’s 20 hours more firearms training than sheriff’s deputies receive. Additionally, university staff must pass at an 85-percent rate compared to the standard 80-percent.

Upon completing the Special Deputy Sheriff Sentinel Program Training, the sheriff will then appoint those staff members Volunteer Special Deputies.

“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,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd at a news conference.

Sheriff Judd said the program will start with 10 armed faculty and staff members, but may add additional members once it is rolled out on the campus, which is home to approximately 6,000 students.