|Shooting may have changed local feeling about school officers|
|Written by Trista Steers MacVittie|
|Wednesday, 30 January 2013 14:21|
Before tragedy struck at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., many didn’t feel we needed police officers in schools to protect students, including in Sedona.
When state funding dried up for the school resource officer program, the burden fell on local school districts and cities to pick up the tab.
Sedona used to station an officer at West Sedona School and Sedona Red Rock High School, but following the funding cut, there was a period when neither school housed an officer.
An intergovernmental agreement between SOCSD and the city of Sedona reinstated the position at the high school. The majority of responders to our online poll during the first week of May felt this position wasn’t necessary.
According to the May poll, which is not scientific, 58.4 percent voted for “No police officer needed” when asked “Who should fund the school resource officer?”
The remaining respondents where split among “Sedona Police Department,” at 8.2 percent, “Sedona-Oak Creek School District,” at 12.7 percent, and “Split the cost,” with 20.7 percent.
It’s easy to think you don’t need something when you haven’t been reminded why it might be a good idea. When there hadn’t been a school shooting for a while, people forgot why they might want an officer stationed at their children, grandchildren or neighborhood children’s school.
After a crisis, however, people call for support in the form of staffing and funding. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer recently rolled out a budget proposal that would include additional funding for 100 school resource officers after she cut funding in past years.
The May poll again came to light when we published “Top Polls in 2012” in our Jan. 2 issue. The school resource officer question was among the most popular, but the numbers reflected sentiment from the spring, not sentiment from the weeks following the Sandy Hook incident.
So, we posed the exact same question two weeks ago amid heated school security debates, gun rights scuffles and state proposals for teachers or administrators to carry weapons.
While the results reflect a much different attitude toward the program, the swing wasn’t what I anticipated.
Interestingly, 37.4 percent of those who responded still feel a resource officer isn’t needed at the school. While the new poll reflected a majority of people supporting the position, I expected those numbers to be higher.
A school resource officer is a good idea for more than simply deterring criminals from attacking a campus. They help administrators monitor student activity and serve as positive role models for the kids.
If something does happen, and law enforcement is needed, the resource officer is already on scene and trained to handle such situations in a way the remainder of the public isn’t. Hopefully some of that state money makes it north to fund the position in this community.