State leaders back proposal to add more school resource officers in Indiana

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Indiana’s Attorney General said the state needs to spend more money to put more officers in schools around the state. He’s backing a bill proposed by a state senator from Avon to spend $10 million dollars on school resource officers.

State leaders said they have been working on the proposal months before the deadly tragedy in Connecticut.  School resource officers in Indiana said they’ve been doing their job for nearly a decade.

The images of the Sandy Hook shooting have kept the issue of school security on the minds of many. For Cindy Melcho, seeing a school resource officer when she drops her two daughters off at school is a new normal.

“Maybe when they were in elementary school, and I saw a police officer there, I might have been a little afraid,” said Melcho. “But now, when I go to pick them up and I see a police officer, I don’t even bat an eye.”

“The presence [on campus], is big but we try to do a significantly more than that,” said Officer D.J. Schoeff, a school resource officer at Carmel Middle School.

Officer Schoeff is also on the Board of Directors for the Indiana School Resource Officers’ Association — a group that uses a pro-active approach in developing school safety plans. While law enforcement is their primary role, Schoeff says much of what they do exists in the classroom — whether it is drug-prevention programs, lockdown procedures, even teaching law-related topics like the Bill of Rights, or forensics in science and social studies.

“It gives them the opportunity to understand why I’m here and what we’re doing here,” said Schoeff. “So there’s a sense of comfort from that.”

Schoeff hopes that comfort can expand more. Indiana’s Attorney General and State Senator Pete Miller announced their support for up to $10-million in state funding for more school resource officers around the state.

“This is a first step no one is suggesting this is an end all be all to school security,” said State Sen. Miller.

For those who are already seeing the benefits, having that security in school is worth more than any price tag.

“You know you’re always safe around them,” said Kayla Melcho, a junior at Carmel High School.

“I think it’s very reassuring to know that they’re there,” said Cindi. “They’re watching over them and protecting them.”

Officer Schoeff says he’s talked to many school leaders who are struggling to keep their school resource officers in their districts. Often times, they usually end up being the first thing to be cut in a school budget.

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