There was an increase in police officers and deputies at schools in Miami-Dade and Broward Wednesday in response to the horrific school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 students and two teachers dead.
Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony shared his grief at a news conference Wednesday, where he said he received hundreds of phone calls and messages overnight from parents, friends, family and pastors who asked if it was safe to send kids to school.
"The first thing we want to do is provide assurance that yes, we expect our kids to be in school," Tony said. "We as an organization working with the school board and superintendent are very much aware of the importance of staying ahead of this and not being responsive."
Tony said the enhanced patrols on school campuses are not because of any intelligence or threats that came in locally, but they want teachers and students to feel safe returning to classrooms after such a terrible school shooting.
The sheriff also said now is the time for action, and for changes to laws to help prevent another tragedy.
"I have been a proponent of putting legislation in place to reduce how many of these high-powered weapon platforms are finding their way into the street and into the hands of people who are mentally disturbed," Tony said. "I’ve heard this narrative for years now about the AR-15 is a sport weapon, you can use it all these ways, no it’s a combat-ready weapon designed to destroy."
Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Vickie Cartwright also wanted to calm fears for everyone returning to school, and offer resources for anyone who needs support.
"We have resources available if your child is struggling or our staff, if you are struggling please reach out to us, we have mental health counselors ready to support you," Cartwright said.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools said they're monitoring the Texas situation.
".@MDCPS is closely monitoring the situation & events surrounding the senseless tragedy in Texas. We remain vigilant & on heightened alert. We urge the community to report suspicious activity to local authorities or via FortifyFL. #SeeSomethingSaySomething," the district tweeted.
“What is really important is the training, the sensitivity, and the type of interactions and watchfulness that these SRO officers have over our school sites," Superintendent Jose Dotres said.
Miami-Dade Schools Police Chief Edwin Lopez called the Uvalde shooting "truly devastating."
"We @MDCPS @MDSPD stand ready to protect our schools from anyone who wishes to cause harm to our students & staff; praying for the impacted families," Lopez tweeted.
“No child should go to school with the anxiety of thinking what may happen at school, we will continue to work on mental health priorities, on safety priorities that will allow our families to feel safe in our schools," Miami-Dade School Board member Christi Fraga said.
As for the increased police presence, that will likely continue until the end of the school year in two weeks.
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