Proposed bill would put more officers in schools

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On the same day students Sandy Hook Elementary School returned to class, an Indiana state senator introduced legislation aimed at providing more armed school resource officers (SRO’s) for schools around the state.

State Sen. Peter Miller (R-Avon) joined Attorney General Greg Zoeller as he discussed the proposed legislation on Thursday.

Zoeller said the plan had been in the works long before the shootings in Connecticut, as part of a state research project on school resource officers.

The proposed legislation, Senate Bill 270, would allot $100 million to the Indiana Safe School Fund, which would provide grants to school districts of up to $50,000 for two years, to pay for half the total cost.

“I think it’s particularly important these positions be expanded on, in light of the events of the tragic events in Connecticut,” Zoeller said. “The subject of school safety is on the minds of a lot of parents, and the public at large.”

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

But the police chief at Indianapolis Public Schools has another idea—he feels schools should get more funding to hire full-time officers, as part of a dedicated force, like the school police force run by IPS.

“It’s the better choice, in my opinion,” said Garner, who called the idea a step in the right direction.

“I’d like to emphasize that this is not a mandate for school corporations,” said Miller. “This is something that’s a good idea. We encourage them to embrace it, but we’re not forcing it upon anyone.”

According to the news release from the attorney general’s office, the bill would encourage school corporations to enter into formal relationships with local police or sheriffs’ departments to put school resource officers in place by providing state funding.

Senate Majority Leader David Long said the idea is certainly worth considering.

“It’s clear from recent tragic events in our country that we have to do everything to ensure the safety of our schoolchildren,” Long said. “This idea has merit and we’ll have serious discussion about it along with other potential measures that we might take in order to help our schools create additional protection for our kids.”

The general assembly convenes on Monday.

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