A school safety committee formed by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says the state should provide money to have an armed police officer at every school.
The Raleigh News & Observer reports that the Governor’s Crime Commission Special Committee on School Shootings says its recommendation to have an officer at every school “reflects a desire to be proactive and preventive rather than reactionary.”
The report says that if permanent funding for an school resource officer (SRO) at every school isn’t deemed viable, the state should “push the issue of SROs in elementary schools.”
Even if an SRO can’t be placed at every elementary school, the report said it would help to have an officer for every three or four elementary schools.
“This would improve security and allow for the elementary schools to have a resource to call on instead of always relying on middle and high school SROs and taking them away from their respective schools,” the report says.
North Carolina has more than 2,400 public schools and more than 1,200 school resource officers. Most school resource officers are assigned to work in high schools and middle schools.
The report contains more than 30 recommendations to improve school safety, including increasing funding for school-based mental health personnel and increasing training for school resource officers.
The group also supports legislation allowing gun violence protection orders, which open a way for courts to take guns temporarily from people who present a danger to themselves or others.
The committee included sheriffs, juvenile justice experts, court officials, educators and other experts.
The recommendation to increase the number of school resource officers could raise objections from groups who argue that there should be fewer police in schools.
A study of North Carolina middle schools published last fall found no relationship between increased funding for school resource officers and reduction in cases of reported school crimes.
The state House School Safety Committee unanimously adopted a report in December that included recommendations such as more money for school safety grants and expanded civic education and first aid training for students.
Unlike the governor’s committee, the House committee avoided discussing the topic of access to guns.