Crossing guards encourage others to sign up for ‘most rewarding job you’ll ever have’

2 veteran crossing guards say it’s not about the money, it’s about the students

Crossing guards take care of our kids in a special way, making sure they get into school safely. Since crossing guards are now in demand in Duval County, News4JAX's Melanie Lawson spoke to two crossing guards who are encouraging more people to sign up.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – They take care of our kids in a special way by making sure they get into school safely, and just like most employees in schools, crossing guards are in demand in Duval County.

James Butler, a retired Navy veteran, has just entered his sixth year as a crossing guard. He said he never wanted to just sit.

“I wanted to do something that was fulfilling,” Butler said.

James Butler, a retired Navy veteran, just entered his sixth year as a Duval County crossing guard. (WJXT)

As a crossing guard, he stands and sometimes is up against bigger things than vehicles.

“I find that kids tell you more about their home life than they’ll tell a counselor or teacher, once they get to know you,” Butler said. “They tell you deep secrets -- what’s going on in their families, and they look forward to seeing you. They’ll tell you the problems they’re having and so you become like their adopted fathers.”

Billy Demps also retired and hit the streets. He’s been a crossing guard going on four years. He gets the kids’ attention with humor.

”You always follow me because I got the sign. Let them hit me first. They say, ‘Hit you first?!’- ... ‘Yes, hit me first,’ and I get them laughing and get them on across,” Demps said.

Billy Demps has been a crossing guard in Duval County going on four years now. (WJXT)

The kids have hit Demps’ heart.

”Yeah, I’m crazy about them now,” Demps said. “I just enjoy making sure they cross the road safely. And I’ve been looking forward to seeing them next day.”

Guards work two hours a day, one hour in the morning and another in the afternoon. The school is typically close to the guard’s house to make for a quick back-and-forth trip. They say it won’t get you rich, but they both agree they’ve hit the jackpot.

“It’s the most rewarding job you’ll ever have. You know, because you’re protecting human lives. So it’s not about the pay if you have a love for children and community. If you want to pay your mortgage, it’s not for you,” Demps said. “But if you want something that gets you out of the house, gives you a sense of purpose, be a crossing guard.”

Guards are paid $11.07 an hour. Applicants must pass a background check, drug screening and complete eight hours of classroom and field training. They must also pass a written exam and a practical exam after completing training.

All uniforms and equipment are provided by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. For more information on how to become a crossing guard go to

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Anchor on The Morning Show team and reporter specializing on health issues.