TAMPA (CBSMiami) – A new program in Central Florida is training everyday people to stop potential school shooters.
School safety guardians will step in to protect students and teachers on campuses that do not have armed deputies or police on campus acting as school resource officers.
Armed with real guns and real bullets, everyday people like ministers, former teachers, and former police officers are training to take down a potential school shooter.
“I’m tired of hearing teachers having to give their lives to protect students. You are here to teach our students. You now can rest assured, that if somebody comes on this campus or any of our campuses, that we are going to be there to engage. You will not have to. We will run to that threat while you take care of what you need to, said former teacher Kimberly Hall.
“We need more people to step up and get into this function of protecting our children,” said retired Polk County Sheriff’s deputy Johnny Thomas.
Candidates for the “guardian” program have to pass background and psychological checks before an intensive six-week course that includes firearms training, precision shooting, and both virtual and live active shooter scenarios. Only the candidates who score high enough on tactical and written tests will be placed in one of Polk County’s 85 elementary schools this fall.
“This is the last best chance to save your child when all the different layers of security have failed,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. “Their job is simply this: to be well-trained, to react within seconds, to find the active shooter and kill him graveyard dead before he can hurt your child with a gun.”
The program was named after Aaron Feis, the assistant football coach at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who died while protecting his students.
On Wednesday, Feis’s wife met the men and women working to become guardians in the name of her husband.
School guardians will earn $30-thousand a year, less than a school resource officer. That difference will allow every school in the district to have an armed guard.