COLUMBUS, Ind.– School districts across Indiana are seeking money from the state to help pay for more school resource officers. In Columbus, police officials said the application process was already underway, with the department seeking two veteran officers to help protect students at the city’s two high schools, and elsewhere.
A measure that passed the General Assembly this year provides for $10 million in grants to pay for the officers. Districts have already begun applying for the grants, but the money has yet to be distributed.
Some lawmakers had pushed for a stronger law, requiring an armed officer or employee in every Indiana school, but that amendment was eventually struck down.
Columbus parents told Fox59 they liked the idea of adding more school resource officers in the district.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said parent Sarah Woolwine. “I just think it will help the kids feel safe.”
“There’s a lot of excitement around here about this,” said police chief Jason Maddix. “It’s kind of been a long time coming, so our officers are excited to get more involved with the kids and the school corporation.”
The two officers would come at a cost of $146,000, which means the state grant would pay for about a third of the cost.
“The corporation feels strongly that we’re going to write a grant that’s accepted and we’re going to get $50,000 of that reimbursed from the state,” said district official Larry Perkinson.
State Senator Pete Miller (R-Avon), the author of the legislation, said that more than 200 districts had already requested an application for the grant, but that only six applications had already been submitted. School districts have until the end of the month to file an application with the state’s Department of Homeland Security.
“We’re appreciative of those grants and the fact that lawmakers made that a priority,” said Maddix. “The safety of students in school is paramount.”
Officials said they hoped to have the officers in place by next semester.