Lawmakers consider bill that would help fund school resource officers, other safety measures

Schools would get matching grants up to $50k

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana lawmakers are considering legislation that would help fund school resource officers through matching grants, as schools look at options to increase security measures and determine how to pay for them.

The push to increase school security following the massacre at Sandy Hook has included arming teachers, armed guards and expanding the number of school resource officers assigned to schools from local police departments.

"I'm from Fort Wayne. We have 51 schools. We have six SROs," said Officer Chris Crapser, with Fort Wayne's police department. "I'm responsible for a high school, two middle (schools) and three elementary (schools). I'm very busy."

There's a state and national effort to expand school resource officer programs, but districts are struggling over how to pay for it.

"I don't think there's a dollar amount you can place on the safety of any human, but a child in particular," said parent Brandy Caldwell. "They're so innocent. Whatever you have to spend to keep them safe, you spend it."

Indiana's attorney general advocates expanding the number of school resource officers, supporting a measure before lawmakers that would create a fund to give matching grants of up to $50,000 to districts over the next two years to help pay for officers in schools.

"I know there are schools and local law enforcement in communities struggling to come up with funding," Attorney General Greg Zoeller said. "This is a question of priorities."

Advocates say the SRO program should be a national priority as part of comprehensive school security.

"Our association supports a bill proposed by Sen. Boxer of California that would fund SRO programs across the country," said Mo Canady, with the National Association of School Resource Officers.

Peru Community Schools has proposed putting armed guards at five of its schools, while not ruling out SROs.

"Let's look at entrances. Let's look at security measures and let's look at do we need school resource officers," said Peru Supt. Charles Brimbury.

The grants would come out of a proposed $10 million fund through the Department of Homeland Security. It could also be used by school districts to buy security equipment and technology.

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