FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Thanks to a new state law, students and parents in Broward County could see armed security guards at schools when classes resume in a few months.
The law was created in the aftermath of the deadly school shooting in Parkland.
The “Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program” allows certain employees to be armed, if they train with the local sheriff’s office.
State law previously authorized only sworn law enforcement to carry guns.
City and school officials along with police are trying to beat an August 15th deadline to have armed security on every school campus in Broward.
It’s part of the new state law after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. There’s very little time to get people in place.
“The governor and legislature dropped the ball,” said board member Patricia Good. “Clearly this wasn’t well thought out. It was maybe done with the best intentions.
Broward has 234 schools and 166 current school resource officers.
They’re looking to hire about 100 additional personnel, but the question is who.
There’s no time to get school resource officers into the role because of extensive training.
“The first opportunity to have certified law officers in the public schools would be August of 2020,” warned Fort Lauderdale City Manager Lee Feldman.
Broward Schools already said they would not take part in the guardian program allowing current school staff to be armed. But now they’re looking a hybrid type program.
“We need to look at alternatives,” said school board member Laurie Rich Levinson. “And that alternative to me would be to look at retired police officers and military.
But with only 2 months until school starts, the chances of getting a hundred people hired, trained for 150 hours and in place are slim.
“If we can’t get there by the start of school we need to work with our local law enforcement agencies and municipalities to find out what kind of stop gap measures we need to put in place,” said Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie.
That means police departments could be asked to take officers off the street and place them on campus until the new guardians are ready.
Broward School District staff will compile information on the hybrid guardian program and have it ready for board members.
They will likely vote on moving forward with the idea at the June 26th meeting.
The board could also discuss forming it’s own police department at some point in the future.
Board members discussed the idea at the workshop saying it could be a permanent solution to having adequate school resource officer staff.