STARKE, Fla. (WCJB)- History is in the making in North Central Florida as more than a dozen armed volunteers are being trained to protect public school students this fall.
They’ are called “Guardians" and they've already started their training in Bradford County.
Before volunteers can go through the active firearm training, they have to pass a background check and a psychological exam
Lieutenant Kevin Mueller is the lead firearms instructor teaching armed guardians for Bradford County Schools this fall.
“They're like sponges, they're learning a lot. It's a good group of people because they chose to be here, they want to be here,” Lt. Mueller said.
Thirteen volunteers have applied and will have to complete more than 140 hours of training.
"The firearms portion of this guardian program by statute is longer than the firearms portion of the police academy,” Lt. Mueller said.
During training, guardians use bullets that are not as powerful as actual bullets. The bullets are made out of wax and are strong enough to make a dent where the target is hit.
The training is similar to SWAT team training
Some of the guardians are school administrators, former teachers or law enforcement officials, handpicked by the School District and Sheriff's Office.
The guardians want to keep their identities a secret.
"Along with the school resource officer, other people who are available and can actually engage the threat or take the threat out or at least isolate it so they can't continue to wreak havoc then we've won,” Major Brad Smith, with the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office said.
They are all motivated by the one thing they all have in common.
“This particular group of people seem to just love children. they got servants' hearts. They're educators and they care about the kids,"
The trainees still have a week and a half left of training.
Those who pass the entire course will be armed in nine of Bradford County's Schools this fall.