News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 13, 2013

EDITORIAL: Uneasy times, hard solutions

Costly allocations for school safety a proactive measure

The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — It’s easy to long for the days when schools need not be patrolled by armed police officers, when a community considered its schools safe havens for students and teachers, and precious resources could be focused on providing the best possible education for everyone.

Sadly, society has dictated a drastic change in the way communities approach their schools, and security has become an urgent issue. The repeated, horrifying instances of mass shootings in schools have forced the diversion of money and manpower to better ensure the safety of all within their walls.

The massacre of 20 first-graders and six adults inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last December was the final straw, and communities such as Terre Haute have responded quickly to put measures in place to prevent something like that from ever happening here.

The Vigo County School Corp. and City of Terre Haute have announced a plan to put armed officers with arrest powers in all city schools by as early as April 1. It’s an expensive prospect with an estimated annual pricetag of $353,000. The school district and city will split the cost.

The school district has also committed funding for officers in rural county schools. That project will cost $270,000 each year and would be split between the school corporation and county. The Vigo County Council has not yet met to approve the plan. When that meeting occurs, we encourage the council to allocate the funds.

The theory behind the program is that having an armed, trained police officer in every school, every day, will sharply decrease the chances of a shooter entering a building and inflicting casualties. And if someone intent on doing harm is able to get inside, an on-site officer can respond more quickly and protect more potential victims.

The Sandy Hook mass shootings delivered the message that despite a nationwide effort to make schools safer, more proactive and aggressive approaches are necessary to raise the security level beyond where most previously existed.

The cost is high, but there is no doubt Newtown, Conn., would have gladly spent that kind of money to prevent the tragic loss of life that occurred there.

Harsh times require hard decisions. We applaud public officials for stepping up and doing the right thing.