DENVER (CBS4) – A state lawmaker wants to put armed officers in every school in the state.
Jefferson County already has officers in many of its schools. The district has 38 school resource officers — uniformed, armed and full-time in all of its high schools and some of its middle schools. But under the new legislation, elementary schools would have officers as well.
They have been in place since before Columbine, but their training today is different. The officers deal with everything from gangs and drugs to bullying and sexting.
“We open up our schools to law enforcement, say, ‘Please come in, train here.’ We will welcome them,” said John McDonald, head of district security.
McDonald said years ago putting an armed officer in a school would have been met with resistance. Today, every school wants one, and if Sen. Steve King has his way, they’ll get one.
“My goal would be a partnership between the federal government, state government, and local government to fund school resource officers in every school in state of Colorado,” said King, R-Mesa County.
“Would it be great to put a person in every single school, a law officer? Yes,” Sgt. Wayne Holverson with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said.
Holverson said they provide deputies free of charge to middle schools and high schools, but expanding it to elementary schools would be cost prohibitive.
“For us to put a deputy in every single elementary school would be about $3.58 million,” Holverson said. “Our budget is being cut $500,000 this year and we don’t have that kind of money.”
“I think that’s the conversation on national basis that people are going to have to have,” McDonald said. “Make a decision; what’s the return on the investment and how important is this?”
It won’t stop every shooting, but Holverson said it may reduce the deaths.
“There’s no more waiting for teams to get there. There’s no more of calling the SWAT team. Those deputies are trained to run straight to shooter,” Holverson said.
Parents are also involved in safety at Jefferson County Schools. Many of the elementary and middle schools have a program called “Watchdogs” that involves volunteer fathers helping with security.
Fourteen other states have statewide school resource officers. The Obama administration pushing for more funding.