HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Broward County Public Schools' rookie class of 17 armed guardians took aim Monday training alongside deputies on how to handle and fire a 9 mm handgun.
The guardians are the first of two classes of recruits to nearly complete their training.
Monday's exercise came just weeks from the start of the new school year and a mandate that all schools in the state have a full-time armed person on campus.
Currently, more than half of Broward County schools fall short of the law.
"We will be supplying the guardians with their uniforms. We will be supplying the guardians with their firearms. We will also be doing the psychological testing," Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said.
The district moved forward with a guardianship program when it became clear cities were not in a position to reassign officers to schools without a resource officer.
The district expects to hire and train at least 55 guardians out of 57 that have qualified for the position.
"It's going to be a combination of overtime and it was also include off-duty detail officers, as well," Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said.
The recruits have already passed their criminal background checks, as well as their mental health evaluations; however, they make up a small number of the original pool of applicants.
More than 100 people have applied, but not all qualify.
Candidates must have a minimum of two years of law enforcement or military experience, or be a corrections officer. The pay tops out at $32,619.
"If you make it through all that then you are required to go through 132 hours of the training that you see here today. In addition to that, there is another 12 hours of diversity training," Runcie said.
Armed guardians will not be in the hallways or classrooms.
The second class of 30 recruits will start their training two days before the start of the school year and they'll replace officers once they complete the course.