Training begins for Manatee County's new school 'guardians'

Thomas Cessar retired with 24 years of experience with the Pennsylvania State Police. Now he has been hired as a 'guardian' with Manatee County Schools. 

"We are there for the protection of your children. We are there to make your children safe. We’re there to prevent any problems," he said. 

Monday, he -- along with 19 other guardians -- started training with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office. He saw the job opening as a calling. 

"Your first instinct is to go help people even when you're a civilian walking around. Within law enforcement it's a calling you have and it's skills you develop how to react properly and appropriately," he said. 

The 20 guardians were hand-selected out of 350 applicants. 

"They've been vetted very well," said deputy and range master Lou Gregory. 

On their first day of training, they were handed their equipment and school-issued gun.  For the next three weeks, 24 different instructors will get them up to speed. 

The guardians will be stationed throughout elementary schools in Manatee County when students go back to school on August 13. 

"We train professionally here and these students, with their backgrounds, they're going to be just fine," added Gregory.