Free Lance-Star reporter Chelyen Davis covers Virginia government.
Cole bill would put a school resource officer in every school
Del. Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania, has filed a bill for the General Assembly’s 2013 session that would require school divisions and law enforcement agencies to work together to put a uniformed, full-time school resource officer in every school.
The idea of putting more officers in schools has gained popularity in recent weeks after the Connecticut school shooting.
In Virginia, many middle and high schools have one or more school resource officers assigned to them, but most elementary schools do not.
Recently House Speaker Bill Howell, R-Stafford, said he supports budgeting more money for grants to help localities pay for additional school resource officers.
Those officers are sworn law enforcement officers, employed by local law enforcement agencies and assigned to work in schools. They are separate from school security personnel.
The General Assembly session starts tomorrow.
UPDATE: Cole says his bill would make school resource officers part of each school’s staff, and thus they would be funded through the state Standards of Quality for schools. Like other SOQ positions, they’d be paid for partly by the state and partly through local funds.
Cole also has another bill that would allow schools or day cares — public or private — to hire armed security officers if they chose to do so. That would be optional, not mandatory.
“It is a shame that we are at this point in society, but I feel like we have to do something to make our children safer. These are two options that I thought we should at least consider,” Cole said in an email.