LAND O' LAKES, Fla. — Danielle Peterson is reacting to a simulated threat inside Rushe Middle School.
It’s a training scenario that feels very real. She tracked down a shooter inside a classroom and took him out.
“It’s just something that’s in my blood, regardless, law enforcement, military. That’s what I’ve done,” she said.
Peterson is one of dozens of new guards set to start next school year at every Pasco elementary.
She’s a former Chicago-area cop and military police officer. But more importantly now, she a mom.
“For me it is personal because I do have a child here. But it’s also because I live in the community where there is a school. And I know other children that go to that school. It’s not just my child, but it’s everybody’s child.”
Many of these safety guards have law enforcement experience.
Chuck Balderstone spent almost 30 years with the Pasco Sheriff’s Office. But this opportunity brought him out of retirement.
“It’s kind of a no-brainer; a chance to work back with the community, a chance to protect our kids,” he said.
The guards are employees of the school district, while the sheriff’s office is running this training to get them ready.
They will not have arresting powers, but will be armed.
“All of us combined are just, we are ready to go in there and get into our schools and introduce ourselves and be that person that people can trust,” said Peterson.
“We are the first line of defense for these kids and it puts us right there,” said Balderstone.
The school district says hiring guards instead of using deputies is a less expensive option that still gets the job done.