Pro football players trade jerseys for police badges in Miami-Dade

(WSVN) - South Florida professional football stars are trading in their jerseys for police badges.

Running the obstacle course at the Miami-Dade Schools police academy isn’t easy. But for recruits Kareem Brown and Antonio Lowery, it’s familiar ground.

Born and raised in South Florida, they are former college and pro football stars tackling new careers with the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department.

Brown went to Miami Norland High School, played for the University of Miami in college, then was drafted in the NFL — playing for the Patriots, Jets and others.

Kareem Brown, MDSPD recruit: “Being an athlete, you kind of train to be explosive. Here you train to be explosive, but it’s more of a mental toughness thing.”

Lowery is a Columbus High grad who played linebacker for Rutgers University, and went on to play pro football in Germany.

In a few short months, these former players will be protecting students.

Kareem Brown: “I went to school for criminal justice, so it’s always been a passion of mine. When I saw the opportunity to come over, it was a no-brainer for me.”

Lowery also majored in criminal justice and is eager to put his degree to work.

Antonio Lowery, MDSPD recruit: “I’m just ready to embrace it. I’m ready to go fire it up. I’m ready for the six-mile runs, the studying, the sleepless nights, ’cause when you stop playing football you lose that. Most athletes come into law enforcement because you get that family bond.”

These recruits will become more than authority figures in Miami-Dade Schools. They’ll be mentors, coaches and counselors as well. For Lowery and Brown, their football history will help them score with the students.

Edwin Lopez, MDSPD chief: “To be able to put a former professional athlete, college all-American football players, high school superstars here locally. To serve as School Resource officers in a school setting is huge. To build that rapport with these kids in the community that they served gives hem a unique ability to relate to those kids.”

After six months of basic police training, they’ll receive instruction in juvenile law and crisis intervention.

Then they’ll be assigned a school, and the work with the kids begins.

Kareem Brown: “I always wanted to be remembered for just making a change. Having a positive impact on everyone that I come across.”

Antonio Lowery: “My passion is kids. I want them to be like, ‘He helped me. Mr. Lowery, Antonio,’ whatever they’re going to call me, ‘Helped me.’ That’s it.”

Their new careers will be a real game changer for them and the students they’ll serve.

Miami-Dade Schools Police hopes to hire more than 300 officers in the coming months.

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