FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A shortage of school resource officers in Broward County has officials turning to the new guardian program. 7’s Brian Entin investigates who these armed protectors are.
The Broward County School district invited 7News to watch their new armed guardians train at a shooting range a few weeks ago.
Officials would not allow anybody to talk to them, so figuring out who they are proved to be difficult.
Instead, we requested all of their resumes and applications and flipped through 268 pages that detail their work histories.
Brian Entin: “Going into the first day of school, how confident are you in these new guardians?”
Robert Runcie, Broward Schools superintendent: “I’m very confident in the guardians.”
Among the guardians going through the hiring process are veterans who served in the Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, whose employment includes Homeland Security, the U.S. Marshals, the VA, the NYPD and even a former game warden with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
There’s also a former SWAT officer who is now a Miami-Dade College professor; one who worked in the Keys after Hurricane Irma providing security for FEMA, and a part-time groundskeeper at Hard Rock Stadium who had been deployed to Iraq three times as a Marine.
The pay for the armed guardians is low … Between $25,000 and $33,000 per year.
Brian Entin: “Are you concerned about that leading to people not being qualified because the salary is so low?”
Robert Runcie: “Well, the issue with the salary is not about people being qualified. We are not going to compromise the standards.”
It appears many of the hired guardians are retired from previous careers in law enforcement.
One wrote on his application: “As the father of two daughters, I have a personal interest in keeping schools safe.”
The district said more than 100 people applied. Most did not make the cut, and the superintendent said 12 were trained and ready for the first day of school.
Because of the shortage, Broward schools is paying various local police agencies to guard schools.
Robert Runcie: “It is going to take us some time. The only frustration or challenge I would say with it is it takes a while to do the recruiting, screening and training.”
Brian Entin: “For security reasons, the school district is not telling us exactly where the armed guardians are working, but we’ve learned they have been placed primarily in elementary schools.”
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