There could be more and better-trained, school-based police officers in North Carolina -- if the recommendations of a legislative committee are put into action.
A subset of the House School Safety Committee on Wednesday approved several draft bills to improve security at schools. One bill would add another $1.8 million dollars to fund pending grant requests from schools to hire school resource officers. According to Kym Martin of the N.C. Center for Safer Schools, that figure is an estimate of what it would cost to fund all the schools that have pending grant applications to hire police officers.
Another bill would require those officers to receive specialized training and continuing education to serve in schools. That training is currently offered at the Justice Academy, but up to this point, has not been required of school resource officers.
"They have been trained in police work. But there is a difference between police work and school resource officer work," said Representative Susan Fisher (D- Buncombe Co.)
Other draft bills include measures to:
- require school district to report annually on how many school resource officers they employ,
- extend mandatory safety drills to charter schools and lab schools, and
- create a tool to assess the vulnerability of school facilities and check schools annually.
Go here to see the full list of recommendations.
"Every one of those recommendations is good recommendations and I think it will make a difference in the safety of the schools," said Representative Mike Speciale (R- Craven Co.), who made the motion to move the proposals forward.
The proposed legislation will go to the full School Safety Committee for more discussion before possibly being introduced in the House during the upcoming legislative session.