New program arms local college employees

When most people graduate they get a diploma. In Polk County, graduates of the sheriff’s new Sentinel program just got the right to carry a gun on a school campus because they are “special deputies.” Unless you’re a law enforcement officer, Florida law prohibits that.

On Monday, 9 special deputies, all staff members at Southeastern University in Lakeland, officially graduated.

“If someone walks onto that Southeastern campus, we’ll be slinging lead at them fast in order to protect the students and faculty.

That’s a guarantee,” said Polk Sheriff Grady Judd.

The Polk Sheriff’s Office developed the Sentinel Program, thought to be the first of its kind in the nation.

The idea may take off. Another unnamed college in Polk County is considering launching its own program. The Polk Tax Collector’s Office is watching how things go at Southeastern before it decides if it wants to take part.

Chris Rudolph says a lot of factors have to be take into consideration.

“Obviously, there are liability issues to look at,” he told FOX 13.

However, the sheriff is full speed ahead. He says any business or organization should consider getting involved.

”We’re over being sitting ducks in this county,” Judd said. “We’re shooting back.”