Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is backing legislation that could put more police officers in schools.
The legislation, filed by Republican state Sen. Pete Miller of Avon, would set aside $10 million in state funding that could be leveraged by local school corporations to hire trained law enforcement officers to act as “school resource officers.”
At a press conference Thursday, Zoeller and Miller said they began working on the bill before the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and six school staff members dead.
That incident has escalated public concern about the safety of schools. “In light of the recent tragic events in Connecticut, we know school safety is a subject parents and the public are very concerned about,” Zoeller said.
Neither Miller nor Zoeller said the presence of a police officer in a school would prevent a similar tragedy from occurring in Indiana, though they suggested it could be a deterrent.
“It’s particularly important that these positions be expanded in light of the tragedy in Connecticut,” Zoeller said, adding that an argument could be made that not having a police presence makes a school a “softer” target for a gun attack.
Zoeller cited a needs assessment survey, conducted by his office last fall, that found that parents, teachers, school administrators and police supported the idea of putting more police officers in local schools, but worried about how to fund the extra expense.
Miller’s bill would set aside $10 million for the Indiana Safe School Fund and allow public schools to apply for matching grants to hire officers to work in schools. The amount of state dollars from the fund would be capped at $50,000 for each school corporation.
Miller acknowledged that the bill doesn’t provide enough money to put a police officer in every school in Indiana.
But he described his bill as an initial step toward making schools safer. “This proposal would be a good first step to meet an immediate need and expand resource officers into schools that don’t already have them, and still give the legislature and executive branch the opportunity to look at other more long-term comprehensive safety options,” Miller said.
Zoeller estimated that one-quarter to one-third of Indiana’s 1,000-plus schools currently have a police officer working as a “school resource officer.”
More than providing immediate security, those officers are also involved in devising school safety plans, enforcing school rules, and working with students and school staff to identify other problems, from bullying to illegal drug use.
Miller’s bill has already earned support from the incoming state Superintendent for Public Instruction, Glenda Ritz. The Democrat Ritz said in a statement that she believed the bill would help ensure safer schools.
It also has some support from the Indiana Association of Police Chiefs, an organization that is currently involved in setting training standards for police officers who work in the schools.
Mike Ward, the association’s executive director, said his members haven’t seen the final language of Miller’s bill, so are holding off endorsing it. But he said the concept of having the state help local schools and local police departments financially, so they can provide for safer schools, is a good one.
“Having a police officer (in school) can be a significant deterrent to violence and mayhem,” Ward said.
Few schools or local police departments have the extra resources to do that on their own, he said.
“If this bill helps offset the cost, that’s a good thing,” Ward said.
Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at Maureen.email@example.com.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is backing legislation that could put more police officers in schools.
- State News
Indiana chooses 5 counties for preschool program
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s three most populous counties are among five chosen for a pilot program that will allow low-income children in those areas to attend preschool as early as next year.
More cases of chikungunya confirmed in Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS — Six more Hoosiers have tested positive for the chikungunya virus, making a total of seven reported cases in the state. The majority of individuals have confirmed travel to the Caribbean, including four teens who were recently on mission trips to the area.
Judge orders Indiana BMV to resume selling plates
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A Marion County judge has ordered the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles to resume issuing personalized license plates, but that doesn’t mean the agency will start doing so anytime soon.
State reports budget surplus, $2 billion in reserves
INDIANAPOLIS — As expected, the state closed its fiscal year with a budget surplus, due largely to spending cuts forced by Gov. Mike Pence.
U.S. Attorney Hogsett announces resignation
INDIANAPOLIS – Joseph H. Hogsett, the United States Attorney, announced in a news release today his resignation from office, effective July 31, 2014.
State reports West Nile virus-infected mosquitoes
INDIANAPOLIS — State health officials confirmed the first signs of West Nile virus activity in Indiana for 2014. Mosquitoes in Marshall and Pike counties have tested positive for West Nile virus. There have been no reported cases of West Nile virus in humans in the state this year.
Pence orders memorials for officers who died
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has declared this week an official period of mourning after the loss of three law enforcement officers in the line of duty over eight days.
Former governor Bayh weighs decision to run again
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Evan Bayh is keeping Indiana Democrats on hold.
Party loyalists longing for a political savior to retake the governor's office have been waiting on Bayh ever since he abruptly decided to leave the U.S. Senate and political life three years ago.
Deal set in ex-schools chief Bennett’s ethics case
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s State Ethics Commission is considering a settlement in the ethics case against former state schools Superintendent Tony Bennett.
Lawmakers returning for ’corrections’ day
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — State lawmakers are returning to Indianapolis for a day to fix critical mistakes left in the criminal sentencing overhaul legislation approved earlier this year.
Constitutional convention backers meet in Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — About 100 lawmakers from 33 states are expected to gather at the Indiana Statehouse for discussions about how to call the first constitutional convention since the nation’s founding.
Dickson stepping down as Indiana’s chief justice
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Dickson is stepping down from that role but will remain as an associate justice.
10-digit dialing in 812 area code soon mandatory
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana utility officials say 10-digit dialing in southern Indiana’s 812 area code will become mandatory in September.
Audit: Nearly 275 in Indiana await 1st VA visit
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An audit of VA hospitals and clinics nationwide has found that nearly 275 Indiana patients are still waiting for initial appointments at facilities in Indianapolis and northern Indiana 90 days or more after requesting them.
Jackpot growth slowing down for Hoosier Lotto
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — State lottery officials are blaming a big drop in ticket sales for a decision to slash the rate at which Hoosier Lotto jackpots grow.
Our view: Throw open the doors
As allegations and scandals continue to explode about hidden wait lists and cooked books at VA medical care facilities across the country, with hints of even more heinous findings to come, we have to wonder why it's business as usual in our nation's
Indiana’s 4 largest cities see population surges
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — A new report by an Indiana University research group says Indiana’s four largest cities are in the midst of some big population increases.
Appeals court: Students can sue over school attack
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Court of Appeals says two students hurt in a school shooting can sue the school district over their injuries.
State health commissioner urges hepatitis testing
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s health commissioner is urging Hoosiers to educate themselves about the dangers of viral hepatitis and to get tested for the disease.
Zoeller: Robocall complaints are down in Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller says his office is receiving almost half as many complaints a month about robocalls as it did two years ago, but says there’s more work to be done.
High court to hear appeal of right-to-work law
MUNSTER, Ind. (AP) — The Indiana Supreme Court will hear arguments in September on Indiana’s appeal of a judge’s ruling declaring the state’s right-to-work law unconstitutional.
Judge: Indiana must still recognize 1 gay marriage
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The state of Indiana must recognize a lesbian couple’s out-of-state marriage throughout their legal fight to have one of the women named as a spouse on her terminally ill partner’s death certificate, a judge ruled today. The Indiana attorney general’s office said it would appeal.
Judge says Indiana BMV wrongly pulled ‘0INK’ plate
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A police officer has the right to buy a vanity license plate reading “0INK,” an Indiana judge has said in a ruling that extends far beyond one plate.
Zoeller: Let legislatures choose Senate candidates
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — U.S. Senate candidates in Indiana would be nominated by the General Assembly instead of selected by voters in a primary if the state’s top legal officer has his way.
Indiana, CDC push for more infant vaccinations
AVON, Ind. (AP) — State and national health officials are pushing for parents to vaccinate their infants on time in the face of measles outbreaks.
Painted bison to celebrate Indiana bicentennial
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Painted bison sculptures and quilted gardens are set to pop up in honor of Indiana’s bicentennial celebration.
Indiana court upholds dismissal of ethics charges
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld a judge’s decision to dismiss misconduct charges against the state’s former top utility regulator.
Board approves Indiana’s Common Core replacement
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The State Board of Education has approved new math and English standards to replace the Common Core benchmarks in Indiana’s classrooms this fall.
FEMA OKs aid for Vigo County
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved disaster aid for 19 Indiana counties hit by a January storm that brought paralyzing snow and frigid readings.
Judge: Indiana lacks valid gay marriage ban reason
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal judge says attorneys defending Indiana’s gay marriage ban haven’t shown any good reason to not recognize the marriage of a lesbian couple, one of whom has a terminal illness.
- More State News Headlines
- Indiana chooses 5 counties for preschool program