Armed security guards to be deployed at Brevard elementary schools next week
BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – More than two dozen armed security guards will be deployed at Brevard County elementary schools next week as part of the district's plan to have a dedicated armed presence on school campuses, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey, flanked by Brevard Schools Superintendent Mark Mullins, who oversees the 70,000-student district, discussed the program’s implementation Monday afternoon, offering new details about the training and the experience of the specialists hired for the 27 positions.
“We have completed our training of our school security specialists,” Ivey said during a news conference at the school district headquarters in Viera.
The Brevard School Board approved hiring security guards in May, and Ivey anticipated the guards would be in place by mid-August. The sheriff did not discuss what delayed the plan until mid-October.
WATCH LIVE: Brevard County officials discuss the district's school security plan. Read more: https://bit.ly/2CMePSLPosted by News 6 WKMG / ClickOrlando on Monday, October 15, 2018
State lawmakers passed legislation requiring armed personnel to be posted at every school, weeks after the Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland that left 17 dead.
The Guardian Program, named after Coach Aaron Feis who was hailed as a hero for his attempts to protect students from the shooter, provides funding for armed security at school campuses across the state. Feis was killed in the attack.
The shooting sparked nationwide debate over arming school employees.
Several districts in Florida, including Brevard, developed security plans to hire and train personnel with military and law enforcement backgrounds.
The new security guards will be placed at the county's elementary schools without dedicated school resource officers. All of the middle schools and high schools in Brevard have armed school resource officers stationed on campus.
Initially, Ivey proposed the Sheriff-Trained Onsite Marshal Program, or STOMP, that would have armed school employees who volunteered for the program, and trained them for about five weeks.
The School Board nixed Ivey’s plan and moved to hire full-time armed security guards. Since then, some parents have protested, calling for the district only to allow sworn police officers to carry guns on campus.
Most of the cost for training and equipment, including the guns and tactical vests issued to the specialists, were reimbursed by the Florida Department of Education with money earmarked for the Guardian program. The amount, $863,475, also paid for professional liability insurance.
The school district has budgeted about $1.2 million to $1.4 million to hire the guards. That money will not be reimbursed by the state. The guards will be paid $40,431 annually, plus benefits and will be employees of the school district. They will not be issued marked vehicles to patrol campuses.
Ivey spoke about the experience of the new armed guards.
"When you look at their level of experience of prior law enforcement and prior military, I can tell you from a personal point of view ... it was a good feeling to know that these are the kinds of people that have applied to these positions to help protect the schools," he said.
Altogether, the security personnel have 248 years of prior law enforcement work and 211 years of prior military experience, he said. More than 100 people applied for the positions.
"They had even higher standards than a law enforcement officer in their training," Ivey said.
The specialists receive 140 hours of firearms, defensive tactics, diversity and mental health training, Ivey said.
"The training was conducted by our instructor corps. All of them are Florida Department of Law Enforcement certified trainers," he said.
Mullins praised the readiness of the security specialists and credited the Sheriff's Office with helping 'filling in the gap' with law enforcement officers when needed.
Tyler Vazquez contributed to this article.
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