HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla — The first day of the new school year is less than a month away, and the Hillsborough County School District is in the process of training new school resource officers.
The training is loud and intense, but worth every drop of sweat.
"You want people to notice what’s going on,” said Gary Gobernik, a former deputy for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office, and SRO in training. "They are your witnesses -- you want people to see what’s transpiring."
The district is hiring 119 new resource officers. They train 40 at a time.
"You have to have a heart for it,” said Stephanie Nieto, who says she’s always had a passion for kids.
"It’s either here in your heart or it’s not. Having four children, it’s definitely here,” said Gobernik.
Many of these men and women are former law enforcement officers with years of experience.
Recent school shootings have some of them coming out of retirement to take on this important role.
"With everything going on I had to do something,” Nieto said.
Starting in August, every school in Hillsborough County will have an SRO - they must go through five weeks of active training, and then another few weeks practicing shooting and getting guardian certified.
"No student should have to go to school thinking 'well is today the day something horrible is going to happen?'" said Nieto.
Once the first group of 40 SRO’s in training are finished, the school district will get the next group through.
In the meantime, the district will partner with local law enforcement to fill in.
The current SRO’s in training will wrap up in August, but won’t start until the week of Labor Day. They’ll be fully staffed by spring break of 2019.