INDIANAPOLIS | Attorney General Greg Zoeller considers his work to secure funding for additional school resource officers and other school safety equipment his top accomplishment of 2013.
The Republican, who began his second term in January, worked with state Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso; state Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte; and state Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, among others, to persuade the Republican-controlled Legislature to award schools some $20 million in safety grants over the next two years.
Twenty-three Northwest Indiana school corporations were awarded up $50,000 each through the program in October.
Many intend to use that money to hire school resource officers, which are law enforcement officers who have received specialized training in working with students and at-risk children. Others plan to buy school security equipment.
Zoeller said Friday he hopes the program leads to positive interactions between police and students while deterring in-school violence.
"I think it will prove to be an investment in the future, where we have a good relationship between the citizens of tomorrow — the students that are in schools — law enforcement and the entire criminal justice system," Zoeller said.
The attorney general cited his ongoing efforts to stop doctors from over-prescribing painkillers, improve the state's child services agency and protect consumers from various frauds and "robocalls" as other top accomplishments.
He also concluded in June a decadelong racketeering case against former East Chicago officials that resulted in the recovery of $331,666, which was turned over to the current city administration for parks improvements.
In total, Zoeller's 151 staff attorneys represented Indiana in 1,382 criminal appeals and 2,717 civil cases during the year.
His unclaimed property division returned $60,660,075 to 97,098 claimants — a new record for the value of returned property.