School Safety Program pushes for more school resource officers on campuses across Arizona

Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 5:59 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Arizona Republicans are calling for more school resource officers. They say it’s the best way to make campuses safer.

State Superintendent Tom Horne is leading the call. Horne says it’s not just about preventing school shootings.

Horne is urging more schools to apply for the School Safety Program before it closes April 15th, but he says they will accept late applications for an additional week.

A big focus of this program is school resource officers on campuses across the state, but it could also include funds for other resources.

“The biggest tragedy that could happen in our state is if a maniac invades a school and kills 20 kids,” Superintendent Horne said at a press conference Wednesday.

Horne says parents in the state overwhelmingly support having school resource officers on campus. In a poll conducted this month, he says 81% of Arizona public school parents support having a police officer. He’s pushing more schools to apply for a grant through the School Safety Program, which would fund resources such as SROs.

He said, “School resource officers are not only there for safety. They also teach classes and they’re there all year round so they become friendly with the students.”

Horne said he would give first priority to schools getting SROs, but the program could also support the cost of probation officers, counselors, and social workers on school campuses. Horne says the SROs would be given special training.

“We’re instituting special, intensive training for SRO’s because training for a police officer normally receives may not be enough to handle the high level stress situation of an invasion of that kind,” he explained.

But not everyone across the state is on board with this new program. Superintendent of Pima County Schools Dustin Williams says he sees a lot of flaws in what Superintendent Horne is trying to do.

Williams said, ″I think SRO’s in schools are good as long as it’s a perfect relationship between the school locally and the SRO here locally. I don’t think we should have the Arizona Department of Education taking away that local control from schools for how they want to do it.”

Williams wants to see more details and transparency from the Arizona Department of Education on this program.

“Education’s a big rubik’s cube. There’s not one answer that fixes it all. You have to leave this local control with each school because they are so unique and so different,” he explained.

Superintendent Horne also sent out a letter to mayors across the state. He’s asking them to support the efforts for school resource officers and to have their police departments share data.