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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: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: Dan Geruss

"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."

No, another way is to charge parents for the protection, people that decide to have children also have a couple options, home school or private school. Why should the taxpayers that have no kids be taxed for other peoples children. Taxpayers should not be responsible to pay for the raising or schooling of other peoples children.


Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: Cheapest Solution

I still say to announce via all medias that all schools will have 2 armed/trained faculty. Here is the catch-a school(s) does not actually have them-but-how would a person know,one way or another.No way to know-automatically deters anyone,and all it costs is a bit of advertising. Think about it-how many idiots will even want to "test" to see if THAT school is or is not armed?

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: parent of a highschooler and kindergardener

Our teachers job is to teach our kids and the security job is to keep them safe. If we need to arm them to do so then provide them proper training and arm them! We protect our kids at home with whatever means nessasary and we need to have someone to protect them when they are in school.

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: no name

"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."
If the taxpayers could be sure that the tax dollars would actually be spent on this we may be willing to. the problem is that we always ask and then when we get we spend o\it on what we want and argue that we have it covered in other ways. Lock all the ourside doors so the only way in is directly to the office where they are supposed to check in. Come up with a bell system that is only for lockdown so that they do not have to get on the announcement system and tell people to lock down and do drills more than once a year where no one really checks if the doors are really locked from the inside like they are supposed to be. What a concept. No cost and we have a good security measure that works.


Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: CONCERNED GRANDPARENT

What is the point in only training one employee? What if that person happened to be out the day chaos broke out. Two or three should be trained, from various locations of the school. Always have a back-up plan. One person will not be able to control Gun to Gun when that person obviously does not care if he/she dies considering the purpose of their actions.

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: No One No Where

First off, I'm glad to hear this issue is being addressed finally. Personally my first choice would be for any teacher or school staff member who can legally carry a sidearm should be allowed to do so at all times at the school. Whether it's 2 people or 20 of them, not just one though, more is better. What if the one staff member allowed to carry is the first person targeted by some evil nut job? I think 10 teachers/staff carrying would be a minimum number for the safety of our children. In the absence of that though then I would be willing to pay a little bit more (3/4 of a million $ split between everyone in the district is peanuts for the safety of our kids) in property taxes every year with the assurance that the money will be used exclusively for and SRO at each and every school in the district. Most of all though it is time that something be done to address this issue. Most of us probably think this could never happen here, but I'm sure the parents in Newtown, CT thought the same thing.

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

Can someone tell me why schools are not part of Kingman and why they wouldn't be protected by the Police already? It just seems to me that this is the reason we have Police departments. This is not to say that even if we have a cop at every school some crazy person with an assault rifle might still be able to out gun him but at least it would be better than what we have now. I think we have our priorities a little mixed up. We read in the miner about every crime that takes place in the city it is pretty much all they print. It seems to me that protecting our kids should be first and drug wars should be last. Most of the crimes we read about are either booze or drug crimes. Is that what we want to spend all of our tax dollars on and hows that working out for us. I believe Nixon was the one who started the drug war. The roll of the police has changed so much since Mayberry I think its time to remember what would Andy do?

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: Armed guard

You know How many licensed arm guards through DPS such as myself that would be willing to protect our schools and still maintain the budget.We barely make anything and would love an opportunity.There are tons of fully licensed security companies in kingman that would do the job for less.I have kids that go to the school here I want them safe just as much as anybody else!

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: az mac

I grew up in East Texas and most boys had guns in their cars as did many of the teachers. Not one shooting in the schools where I grew up.
All teachers who want to train should be allowed to carry a gun. By the constitution it is every one's right to carry a gun. The second does not limit who can have a gun. The criminals will always have access to guns. When it is known that teachers are armed, mass shootings at schools will stop. The mass shootings almost always take place in a NO GUN ZONE, they do not want anyone shooting back at them. Over 2 million crimes were stopped last year because honest people carry guns. Take the right to carry a gun away and this country will fall to a dictator.


Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Article comment by: Denis Clark

click on the link
http://janmorganmedia.com/2012/12/why-you-dont-hear-about-any-school-shootings-in-israel/



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