“We’ll do whatever it takes to keep our children safe”: Bradford County Sheriff’s office starts training armed ‘Guardians’ for school campuses
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STARKE, Fla. (WCJB) -Class is in session; not for Bradford County students, but for on-campus armed guardians who spend weeks training in the event of a school shooting.
“Anybody that wants with the intent to cause harm on our campuses, we train them to kill them,” said Bradford County Sheriff, Gordon Smith.
The program has been in place since 2018 after the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school. Although, Sheriff Smith said retired deputies and veterans have volunteered to patrol campuses for the past 40 years. Current campus guardians have to stay anonymous.
“What speaks to me, or what I feel like speaks to people the most, you’re talking about an elementary school, I mean who could fathom something, someone wanting to go into an elementary school and just killing all these innocent kids,” said the anonymous school guardian. “It’s not just a random person getting a gun on campus but it’s someone who’s there to help protect your child or protect the community’s children.”
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Guardians are hidden within every Bradford county school and that’s why one mom explained that she still felt safe sending her three kids back to campus after the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas.
“But you know what? We’ll do whatever it takes to keep our children safe,” added Sheriff Smith.
Guardians train a minimum of 144 hours per state law but in Bradford county, guardians train during the summer and at least four times a year on multiple campuses. It’s a sigh of relief for Shawna Burkhalter who has had three students in the district.
“Even the day after, the Texas incident, people were like oh I’m not sending my kids to school,” said Burkhalter. “You were reading on social media people are not wanting to send their kids to school. I didn’t even have that thought. I felt very safe sending my kids to school, I didn’t have any second thoughts.”
Burkhalter said she’s glad a guardian can stand in the way of a potential school tragedy.
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