EDITORIAL: Hiring professionals beats arming amateurs

2013-12-31T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Hiring professionals beats arming amateurs nwitimes.com
December 31, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller says securing money for additional school resource officers is among his top accomplishments of 2013. It's a responsible initiative.

Zoeller said Friday he worked with state lawmakers including Sens. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, and Jim Arnold, R-LaPorte, and Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, to persuade the Legislature to free up $20 million in school safety grants over the next two years.

In October, 23 Northwest Indiana school districts were awarded up to $50,000 each through this program.

Many of the districts planned to hire school resource officers. These law enforcement officers receive specialized training in working with students. Other districts planned to purchase security equipment.

"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 Friday.

It's also a better response to tragedies like the Newtown, Conn., school shooting than a shoot-from-the-hip response that surfaced in the Indiana General Assembly last spring.

The Indiana House killed a bill that would have required at least one person carrying a gun in every public school at all times. That mandate fortunately went to a legislative study committee instead of the governor's desk.

State Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City, said in September he's interested in expanding the "stand your ground" doctrine to include schools.

"Let's look at the possibility of rather than this person going and retreating into a bathroom and allowing someone to barge down the hallways and start shooting, maybe it is possible we could add that to the castle doctrine to give them the ability to possibly take action to stop any kind of intrusion like that," Mahan said in September.

Rather than putting untrained armed civilians in schools, hiring school resource officers is the way to go.

Zoeller's work in that direction is indeed an accomplishment, especially when compared to encouraging teachers, parents and other untrained marksmen to carry guns in schools.

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