Arizona head of education calls for all schools to have uniformed officers, citing polls

Tom Horne, the head of Arizona schools, is making a new push to get more resources officers back on campuses.
Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 5:04 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne said on Wednesday Arizonans want police officers on school campuses and called out one district in Phoenix to bring officers back. Surrounded by Republicans, Horne cited a poll of public school parents which found 81% were in favor of having a uniformed officer at school. The poll also found 71% said safety in school is important.

According to Horne, a separate poll from the Phoenix Unified Teachers Association found 82% of teachers say students have positive interactions with school resource officers on campus, and 80% believed police officers have a role on campus. Horne and other Republicans in the state Legislature believe having SROs on campus is a key part of school safety. “The biggest tragedy that could happen in our state is if a maniac invades a school and kills 20 kids, and if parents were to find out that that school could have had a school resource officer to protect the kids and didn’t do it, you can imagine how the parents would feel about that,” Horne said.

The committee came up with recommendations to bring back SROs but with stipulations like officer hiring, accountability, and specific training.

This new call comes on the heels of Phoenix Union High School District having a meeting on Thursday about bringing back SROs. The school district ditched police officers on campus starting in 2021. At the time, Governing Board members pointed to researchers in the Journal of Adolescent Health who said they found “no evidence” having an SRO “lessened the severity of school shooting incidents.”

However, school safety came again in PXU when in September, students thought they heard gunshots at Central High School, causing the campus to be locked down, and chaos ensued. There was no evidence of a shooting, but it was still traumatizing for students. Plus, with the recent school shootings in 2023, there’s a new push to get SROs back on campus. Late last month, a safety committee recommended bringing back the officers and will present its findings to the PXU Governing Board on Thursday. The Phoenix Police Department would have to agree to the changes as well. The Governing Board’s vote is expected to happen before the end of June.