Are school resource officers worth the money? - Tucson News Now

Are school resource officers worth the money?

Posted: Updated:
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

There is little doubt there will be a loud, contentious and vociferous debate about guns in the coming weeks.

All sides are firmly entrenched but there's some evidence there will be movement. Could be a little. Could be a lot.

One of the items getting attention is how to protect schools and school children.

Following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary where 20 children were murdered, the National Rifle Association proposed an armed guard at every school.

Support for that has been lukewarm at best but the idea of an armed police officer gets a better reception.

Some schools already have them.

They are called School Resource Officers.

They are armed police officers who act as more than guards.

Tucson had 23 of them following the Columbine shooting in 1999 but dropped the program when budgets became strapped in 2007.

They are part teacher, part guidance counselor, part mediator and of course, a police presence.

"I love it, love it," says Officer Dan Horetski, a school resource officer at Canyon Del Oro High School for the past seven years.

Horetski is a graduate of CDO High School and took a demotion to come back to the place he loves for the community he loves.

"They hear about things that are going to happen," he says about the students. "This is a happening that you guys may want to know about and look into."

Horetski feels that resource officers "are worth every cent."

That would be a lot of cents.

The small town of Oro Valley spends $700,000 annually for seven resource officers for its schools.

They're not cheap but Horetski believes they're effective not just in defusing potential problems but keeping them from happening in the first place.

"A lot of studies will show if we're talking about somebody coming to the school and do something bad, they're not going to a school when they's somebody to fight back," he says.

This is also an issue the state of Arizona may debate in the upcoming legislature.

Lawmaker and House Member Chad Campbell, a Democrat from District 14 in Phoenix, has proposed legislation which includes $25 million for SRO's.

It's part of a more comprehensive law which costs $261 million but also includes money for mental health.

It's something that may have bipartisan support but the price tag may also raise some eyebrows.

Horetski believes one of the reasons why they are valuable is the resource officers gain the trust of the students and the community over time.

"Absolutely, I think it prevents and will prevent bad things happening at schools which have an SRO," he says.  

Copyright 2013 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow