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1/9/2013 6:01:00 AM
Gun debate grows: Armed educators, or funding for school police?
JC AMBERLYN/Miner
Student Resource Officer John Nielson of the Kingman Police Department watches as students walk through the halls of White Cliffs Middle School Tuesday afternoon.
JC AMBERLYN/Miner
Student Resource Officer John Nielson of the Kingman Police Department watches as students walk through the halls of White Cliffs Middle School Tuesday afternoon.

Ahron Sherman
Miner Staff Reporter


A proposal to give schools the right to train and arm one employee in order to reduce the chances of a tragedy similar to the Newtown massacre may raise as many issues as it addresses.

"If we want to do it right, we need to find the funding for fulltime (police) officers at every school," said Kingman Unified School District Superintendent Roger Jacks. "The presence of law enforcement is the best deterrent to crime (at our schools)."

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne recently proposed designating one employee at each school to be trained to use a firearm and handle emergencies similar to what occurred in Newtown. The training would be provided by the Attorney General's Office in conjunction with participating Arizona sheriff's offices, according to information released by Horne's office.

Sheriff Tom Sheahan's name is included in the release as someone who'd be willing to participate in the program should it gain traction throughout the state. But he was not available for comment in time for deadline.

Once trained, the designated employee would be cleared to keep a gun at the school in a secure place and have a line of communication that alerts him or her to an emergency at the school, according to the release.

It is illegal for anyone other than a police officer to have a firearm on Arizona K-12 campuses, so for Horne's proposal to be allowed, legislative changes would need to be made.

Should Horne's proposal gain traction and become an actual program, it would not be mandatory.

For Jacks, the proposal creates more concerns than it alleviates - for instance, who would be trained and where would the gun be kept?

Arming a teacher is basically out of the question, he said.

"We couldn't have a teacher leaving (his or her) students to go get the firearm," Jacks said.

Where the gun would be locked up is equally important. Imagine the person cleared to use the school's firearm not being able to get to the gun because the assailant who entered the school intent on doing harm is blocking access to the weapon, Jacks said.

There are too many variables and too much uncertainty accompanying Horne's proposal, Jacks said.

"There are just so many scenarios," he said.

Horne agrees with Jacks, to an extent.

"The ideal solution would be to have an armed police offer in each school," Horne said in his office's release. "Some of our schools have such officers, referred to as School Resource Officers.

"However, budget considerations have caused the Legislature to cut back on the SRO program. It may not be possible to afford a police officer in every school," Horne said.

Horne calls the proposal to arm and train one employee at each school "the next best solution."

There are currently five SROs at Kingman Unified schools and one SRO for Kingman Academy of Learning schools.

Wanda Hubbard, KUSD's finance director, said a $130,095 state grant, which the district must re-apply for every year, pays 75 percent of the salary and benefits of two MCSO deputies. One is the SRO for Kingman High and the other is the SRO for Black Mountain School in Golden Valley and Cerbat Elementary.

The balance of the two deputies' salaries and benefits is paid for by MCSO, Hubbard explained.

The district also has a formal agreement with the Kingman Police Department and MCSO to split 75 percent of the salary and benefits between the three entities to pay for the KPD officer who works at Kingman Middle School and Manzanita Elementary as an SRO.

The officer's remaining salary and benefits is paid for by KPD, Hubbard said.

There are two more KPD officers who work in the district as SROs. One splits time between Lee Williams High and Palo Christ Elementary and the other works at White Cliffs Middle School and looks in on Desert Willow and Hualapai Elementary.

The Miner could not confirm how the services of these two officers are paid for, but Hubbard believes KPD foots the bill.

The district would need an additional six SROs to put a dedicated one in each school. This tally does not include Mount Tipton School in Dolan Springs because MCSO already has a substation on the school's campus.

Jacks said he spoke to KPD Chief Robert DeVries about the cost associated with putting an officer in every school, and he was told that it would cost between $60,000 and $70,000 per officer. The district would need to pay for a vehicle for each officer as well, Jacks said.

Based on this information, adding six SROs to district schools would cost anywhere from $360,000 to $420,000 a year, and that's without counting the cost of providing vehicles to each officer.

The state grant the district uses to pay for two of its SROs was cut three years ago, Hubbard said. It used to be enough to pay for three officers, she added.

The Arizona Republic reported Monday that Democratic House Minority Leader Chad Campbell is expected to introduce the "Safer Schools, Safer Communities Proposal" today, which among other things would address funding for SROs.

"There's a way to do this," Hubbard said of putting an SRO at every school. "People will have to be willing for their taxes to go up."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2013
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

The only thing for sure no side on this issue has a majority, in fact each side has divisions within each side, polls are meaningless but seems everyone who wishes to claim they are in the majority quotes worthless polls much as they did during the election, doubt any real agreement is possible, good thing we have a US Supreme court to act as umpire on the arguing multiple sides!

Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“Armed guards for the obama girls, to hell with the rest of our children.”

The Obama’s pay a small fortune to send their girls to a private school that provides security for all of the children including those of diplomats, ambassadors and many corporate CEO’s. When you or the other paretns are willing to cough up $50,000 to provide well trained, professional, armed security personnel I will support your effort – but I will not help fund it. And just out of curiosity where was your ire when previous presidents sent their kids to private schools that offered a secure environment or armed Secret Service protection?

“And where is obama and Hillary on the Americans held hostage in Africa right now? NOT ONE WORD OUT OF EITHER OF THEM, AS IF IT ISN'T HAPPENING. NO WORDS, NO COMMENTS, NO PLAN, NO NOTHING.”

and exactly what do you expect the United States Government to do? Start another war? As harsh as it sounds Americans who agree to go to work for corporations (that obviously do not provide proper security) in hot-spots around the world know exactly what they are getting into and it is not our (as a nation) responsibility to save them.


Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Lori:

Everything obama came out with yesterday should have already been done BY HIM, has already been done in the past with no good results or is something that will prove to be worthless.

Not one mention of every shooter being on meds. Not one single mention of that....and then for obama to use the children behind him as a backdrop.

He is one of the sickest men I have ever seen. His face even looks evil. To put innocent children behind him and use them against fellow citizens and as if young children know all the ins and outs of gun control anyway. They wrote letters? Right!!

But listen to you libs whine about the NRA ad which was right on. Armed guards for the obama girls, to hell with the rest of our children.

There is no reason whatsoever the NRA should pay for better school doors. We already blow billions on schools to no avail - let them pay for that idea.

And where is obama and Hillary on the Americans held hostage in Africa right now? NOT ONE WORD OUT OF EITHER OF THEM, AS IF IT ISN'T HAPPENING. NO WORDS, NO COMMENTS, NO PLAN, NO NOTHING.

Can someone say Bengazi?


Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Article comment by: Lori Gabriel-Dane

Since the NRA doesn't want any type of new regulations, here's something THEY should pay for.. Every classroom has a door. What would it cost to replace flimsy doors with ones that cannot be penetrated, and keep them locked when classes are in session. The initial cost might be expensive, but it would be a one-time expense and those doors would last as long as the school does. All outside doors should be ones that cannot be penetrated, as well. If someone is trying to get in, this will give teachers time to contact the police. And any new school being built, the NRA should pay for those schools to have bullet proof windows, and doors that are strong enough that they cannot be penetrated by any type weapon the NRA and its members promote and support.

Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Article comment by: Easy Answer

Ask for volunteers from retired law enforcement and ex military. You would get all the qualified and trained guards that you need.....and for free. There is no money for paid guards, not if you want to maintain quality education. Close Mt Tipton and Palo Christy to provide the money. Palo Christy is too old to keep putting in money for maintenance. Move those kids to the new elementary school on Prospect and sell the building or land to reinvest in local education.

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Article comment by: So Laughable

@ responsible gun owner

"No one would know what staff members have or don't have it..."

That statement is so laughable! Did you forget your in Kingman where the only people that can keep secrets are the local government and the criminals?


Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“He gives himself lifetime secret service protection just to be safe........good thinking!”

You are aware that the bill was put forth by a Republican in an effort to protect The Criminal, was passed by both the House and Senate and was veto proof?


Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Article comment by: responsible gun owner

First of all guns don't kill people, people kill people. I have a concealed weapons permit and all. My question is simple why not give the staff at the schools the option of getting their concealed weapons permit and let them carry? No one would know what staff members have or don't have it... making it harder for criminals to determine or plan anything. Maybe criminals would think twice if they have to guess on who is and isn't armed. But at the same time, maybe one of those armed staff members can save lives should anything like these shootings occur. And here is another idea for you, we have retired military, honorably discharged military,retired police officers,! They are qualified enough to serve and protect this country! They are definately trained...why would they not be qualified enough to protect our children. My point is... where there are laws like "gun free zones" we have potential victims.. there are solutions available we should use whatever we can to protect and keep our kids safe!

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013
Article comment by: Adding A Gun Makes That Person

No name. Add a gun - that's why we don't say anything about an old retired military volunteering in the schools to help kids read.

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013
Article comment by: Huh? You said What?

Dan, we need more information on your parents paying all these "tuitions" for you to attend "public school".

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013
Article comment by: Let's Stop Tax Money to Charter Schools

Joe Schmo what you say is right on but you did neglect to mention charter schools

"Public schools (AND CHARTER SCHOOLS)are, in fact, supported through property taxes by all taxpayers..."

"Every child is welcomed into our public schools..." NOT OUR TAXPAYER-FUNDED CHARTER SCHOOLS where admission IS decided by what your parents make, what your parents do for a living and if the head of the charter school wants to take you.


Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013
Article comment by: A Kingmanite

To the comments about paying to have armed guards in our schools. I will vote no on any bonds, measure, inititives, etc. which allow anyone other than active law enforcement officers and that designates any money going to the charter schools.

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013
Article comment by: A Childless Senior

Oh my. There's a comment here that basically says it's not my child, I don't want to pay taxes to educate them. It's called a society. Education is all of our responsibility. We build a better world for all of us when we encourage and support education. I could go on however I really only have one question for Dan. Who paid for your education?

Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Article comment by: More Options

@ Linda Athens

"put them to work with our great thanks."

Do mean the kind of great thanks that your right wing party envision by cutting their benefits, and pay. Why not hire the "homeless" and "jobless", some of which served and society has forgotten. How about as FLS would say, task the "parasites" that are already receiving our tax dollars?


Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Article comment by: Capt. Nice

Here we have a president (not by my choosing) that acts all concerned about the safety of our kids and does something about it.
He gives himself lifetime secret service protection just to be safe........good thinking!


Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Article comment by: And Again!

And again another shooting, this time in California. Let's see, yep, California has some of the strictest gun laws in the us also but this time it was a shotgun. Talk about positive press for anti-gun nuts.

Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Article comment by: Parent and Tax Payer

If money is an issue, get serious... Taxes do not have to increase drastically and for some this apparently isn't an issue if it is supposed to help secure our children’s safety. Being a parent of school aged children and a tax payer of Mohave County, why couldn't each tax payer pay a minimal of $1 per person you are filling on your taxes. For those without children, come on... you could have lost that dollar or two pulling it out of your pocket and have it blown away in the wind (after our town should have been called the Windy City). Those with children, well it will be used to protect your child today or in the years to come... Whether it is used to put more SRO's in the school or provide bullet proof glass & alarming systems, you are talking less then .003 cents per day or maybe a whole penny per day, which in Mohave County many residents appear to spend more then that on cigarettes & booze. I bet you are the ones probably going to be the first to complain about paying for the safety of your children. Step up or Man up!

Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Article comment by: cheap and easy

We have alot of retired and active police officers in our little town. As bad as the economy many would jump at alittle extra income.

Parents could pool say five or ten dollars a month to have 'boots on the ground" where they may be needed.

There are hundreds of families involved per school. The sum of small donations would amount a very large fund without putting any real strain on parents.

Possilby enough to have more then one officer on duty in the larger schools.


Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Article comment by: Lisa Lisa

I would totally pay to secure the safety of my children as well as thousands of innocent children who could potentially become victims. Some of the people that are walking our city streets are just a back crack pipe away from going over the edge and taking out their issues on our children. What people do not understand is that these people who suffer from mental illness can snap at any minute. YES there are various mental illnessess but seriously did anyone think this guy in Conn. was going to snap and take the lives of innocent children? or what about Aurora, Co.? Senseless. So yes, I would rather have my taxes go up to protect my children than pay for our president to go on more vacations this year or our streets to be "fixed".......

Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Article comment by: Not Going To Work

@ Al DiCicco

The CT shooter went into the classroom!


Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Article comment by: Amber Lee

@ AZ MAC: "No one is going to guard the kids for free everyday."
I know several people including myself and my husband who would gladly spend our time guarding the schools at no charge. Good parents protect their children everyday at home for now "pay" and when their kids' friends are over they protect them too. People have risked their lives to save a child that they do not even know. Most people would not hesitate to protect children at all costs and for no pay.


Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

@Warren AO

"Guns in schools as a response to gun violence in schools is quite literally the stupidest possible reaction."

So what do you recommend to improve student safety........Larger gun Free Zone signs? LOL


Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Article comment by: Armed guard

We are not worthless.And we have to obey the same laws through DPS. O and our guns are not for show.If some one was shooting up my sons school and I was on shift My gun would not be for show.Your following the average security guard stereo type.Were not All like that...P.s. dont think you know the duties of our job..I dont comment and put down your job!!!!

Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Article comment by: az mac

No one is going to guard the kids for free everyday. Police already have their hands full. The money used to hire security will take away from the kids. Remember the police only get there after the crime is committed. To put a police officer in the schools is taking away one from the streets. If they have to hire more police then your taxes go up even higher. Just knowing that teachers are armed will stop most all from trying to shoot up a school, works in Israel. Mass shooting take place in NO GUN ZONES.

Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Article comment by: Al DiCicco

Self-defense is a mindset, not just a person with a gun. Most people are in a TV, PC and Cell phone trance, wake up! Pay attention to your surroundings and trust your instincts. Only you can protect yourselves effectively when seconds matter. As for children in schools, we had a cop in suburban Chicago that was on watch where I grew up, but no gun but that was 1978. In Las Vegas, they have school police, likely with guns. I think it is time to have some police in schools and a few armed teachers that choose to do so if trained properly.


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