Submitted by Tim Gaffney,
Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, Public Information Officer
Phoenix, Ariz – State Senator Rich Crandall (R-Mesa), Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu and National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) President Kevin Quinn announced their comprehensive $30 million dollar plan adding nearly 300 School Resource Officers, funding $4.5 million to improve mental health assessment to pro-actively identify threats and $1.5 million to expand school guidance counseling. The plan proposes to redirect clean elections excess funding via a ballot referral. Other ideas include a tax on alcohol sold in Arizona or a fee on private party auto sales although the referral is the preferred method of funding. The annual revenue generated would provide the necessary funding stream to guarantee the program’s ongoing success.
Sen Crandall said, “Our proposal works. Other plans raid the general fund, which can’t support any of the proposals and doesn’t guarantee ongoing funding. We address mental health, school counselors and needed Deputies and Police Officers in Schools. We have 2,200 schools in Arizona and as much as we’d like, we simply can’t fund an SRO in every school. Our plan also allows for school districts and charters to voluntarily choose whether or not to arm teachers and/or administrators.”
Sheriff Babeu said, “We need to immediately expand funding for SRO’s in as many schools as funding allows. We need to amend Arizona laws for Gun-Free School Zones, to allow schools without SRO’s to designate certain school administrators and designated teachers to be armed to initially defend against any violent attack on their school. Law enforcement will provide annual training and qualification for these designated school staff. I don’t want to arm a couple of teachers in every school, but what is the alternative? We need a permanent funding source, since the general fund may be eliminated, yet the threat to our schools remains.”
Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 defines a school zone as the area “in, or on the grounds of… or within a distance of 1,000 feet from the grounds of a public, parochial or private [elementary or secondary] school.”
Sheriff Babeu said, “Administrators and teachers are highly educated, they know their schools and love the children. Past efforts to protect innocent children and our schools have resulted in making them more vulnerable and more alluring as targets for mass killings. Restrictive gun laws, or even trying to take guns away from millions of law abiding citizens is unconstitutional and will NOT stop this violence. The immediate reality for every law enforcement leader is how do we best protect our schools, which are not fully protected and are not as safe as they should be in order to be called “safe school zones? Even with our School Safety Plan, we can’t fund and officer in every school, this is why we must allow school districts the option to designate and train certain school officials to be armed.”
NASRO President Kevin Quinn said, “We should not have a regular Police Officer or Deputy in schools to provide security, yet the officer should be a School Resource Officer (SRO). SRO’s are carefully selected officers who are trained to teach classes, mentor students, building positive relationships with students and staff and are one of the best defenses against an active shooter in a school.”