Horne, Campbell discuss dueling proposals for school safety

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

MARYVALE, Ariz. -- Dueling proposals to prevent the next school shooting tragedy took center stage at a Town Hall meeting in Maryvale Thursday.

More than two dozen community members, parents and school board members filled the Maryvale Community Center to voice their questions and concerns before a panel which included Attorney General Tom Horne and House Minority Leader Chad Campbell.

"We're here to find out reasons and how we can stop Newtown and Columbine and Virgina Tech," Al DePascal said. 

DePascal suggested schools look into working with retired law enforcement to protect Valley schools.

Horne supports a bill that would allow a designated school employee to store a firearm in a secure place on campus. The employee would undergo 24 hours of special training, which Horne's office said it would provide for free.

He said it offers a middle path solution with the budget in mind.

"I'm realistic, I realize the Legislature doesn't have enough money to put a resource officer at every school," Horne said. "I favor expanding it as much as possible, but my program is second best to that. If you can't afford to have a police officer at every school, then you train somebody else who works at the school."

Campbell disagrees, proposing instead increased funding for school counselors and resource officers, as well as requiring risk assessments of local schools.
"If we're having people on campuses with weapons, we should have trained law enforcement officers, school resource officers," he said. "We need to have trained individuals who know how to handle tactical situations."
However, despite the ongoing debate, none of the proposed bills has hearings scheduled.

"I think, unfortunately, nothing has happened so far down at the Capitol of any substance," Campbell said. "We kind just seem to be content with the status quo, and that's not good enough."