January 11, 2013
With the tragic school school shooting in Newton, Connecticut and more recent shooting in California, school safety is on the minds of many parents. One suggestion gaining ground is to put armed police officers, also known as school resource officers, in every public school. No easy task, according to Albemarle County officials.
"We understand the importance of having officers in schools and it's something we would love to expand," said Carter Johnson, of the Albemarle County police department. "However, we just don't have the officers or the resources to expand."
Currently there is a school resource officer in each of the county's four high schools. The police department would need to provide 23 additional officers in order to put one in every school, and more manpower means more money.
"If we we put officers in every school, that's a huge expense," said Albemarle County Supervisor Ken Boyd. "You're talking about millions of dollars a year in operating costs."
In order to pay for additional officers in schools, Boyd said the county would have to find money either in the school board's budget or shift around money in the county's budget. The school board's current budget surplus wouldn't be enough to sustain putting officers in every school permanently.
"I don't want to have a knee jerk reaction," said Boyd. "What we need to do is take some time and talk to police, teachers, and school administrators and make a reasonable decision about what we need to do, if we need to do anything."
Plans for a school safety forum are in the works between the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County police departments and school boards. A date is set for sometime in February and the forum will be open to the public.