Funds approved to bring school resource officers to Arizona campuses

Right now, there are 190 school resource officers across the state, but this new funding will bring that number up to 301.
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 9:33 PM MST|Updated: May. 22, 2023 at 9:36 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - More schools around Arizona will soon have a uniformed officer on campus, called a school resource officer. On Monday, the Board of Education approved nearly $100 million to fund more of these positions, but there is also money for mental health resources at Arizona schools.

Right now, there are 190 school resource officers across the state, but this new funding will bring that number up to 301. The money for these new positions will come from a combination of federal and state grants.

Arizona’s State Superintendent of Schools Tom Horne says school safety is one of his top priorities. Monday, the Board of Education approved his recommendation to add more campus school resource officers. “All of the requests we got for school resource officers we granted,” Horne said. “What I am trying to avoid is a catastrophe of 20 kids being killed. It has happened in other states and it could happen here but if there’s a policeman to defend them, it won’t happen here.”

Horne says these are competitive grants that schools applied for to add SROs, but the board also approved $45 million to add 566 counselor and social worker positions.

In 2020 Phoenix Union High School District did away with SROs saying they were saving money by doing so. But this March, some parents and students attended meetings to voice their concerns, as the district’s safety committee recommended they bring them back.

According to Horne’s office, Phoenix Union is getting some of these new SROs on their campuses. “I am supportive of school resource officers when done in the proper way. School resource officers should not be used as a disciplinarian for a classroom situation. That’s what teachers and administrators are there for,” Ann O’Brien, City of Phoenix, Councilwoman of District 1 said.

O’Brien believes having this presence will create a better relationship between kids and officers. “I think it would be a mentoring relationship and a friendship but it’s really a learning relationship to on both sides. The officers learn from the kids and the kids learn from the officers,” she said.

Schools getting these grants will be required to get yearly training from the Department of Education on violence prevention strategies, building relationships with students and working with mental health providers.

Horne says this is a three-year deal and would like to add even more officers when the time comes. In the meantime, you can find the list of schools getting these SROs below.