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Democrats Worry Too Much Expected From School Officers

resource officer

Photo: Goodyear Arizona

A school resource officer helps a student.

House Democrats say they are worried legislation requiring school resource officers to be responsible for securing a school in addition to working with students asks them to do too much.

A school resource office is a trained law enforcement official who receives extra training to work in a school environment. Supporters say officers are intended to be more than a cop in a school. They are expected to help educate and counsel students, becoming part of the fabric of the school.

Proposed legislation provides up to $10 million in matching grants Indiana schools can use to hire a resource officer. But the bill would also now require the officers to be responsible for protecting the school against outside threats and preventing unauthorized access to the school.

Representative Linda Lawson (D-Hammond) says that is too many responsibilities for one person.

“This has to be a very special person,” she says. “The person who works with kids who are troubled and belligerent, need a lot of attention, much more than a bully with a gun.”

Senator Pete Miller (R-Avon), the bill’s author, says in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting, more needs to be done to secure schools.  But he says that does  not mean school resource officers core responsibilities will change.

“Once they’ve accomplished that task of making sure the buildings are secure, yeah, they’re interacting with the student body and doing all those things.  Just because we don’t put that in the bill or the law doesn’t mean that’s something they won’t do,” he says.

Miller says a few minor changes will likely be made to the bill but he expects it to pass.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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