Horne announces program adding nearly 140 school safety officers in Arizona schools

Arizona Department of Education is hiring more than 130 off-duty officers through a company to be security at public schools.
Published: Oct. 18, 2023 at 12:02 PM MST|Updated: Oct. 18, 2023 at 1:32 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Arizona State Superintendent Tom Horne addressed a school safety officer shortage plaguing the state’s schools. On Wednesday, Horne was joined by school district leaders from Dysart and Paradise Valley Unified to announce 138 police officers will be placed in 11 counties throughout Arizona. School officials say it means all 301 positions funded through the school safety program will be filled.

According to Horne, officers can come from other departments, such as a Peoria officer being assigned to a Phoenix school. The school safety officers will have the same duties as resource officers, working with staff and students. “The problem of finding officers to fill these funded school safety positions has been solved and it is vital that schools have armed officers on campus to prevent a tragedy should a maniac try to shoot up a school,” Horne said in a statement.

As Arizona’s Family Investigates reported, there has been a renewed push to add more officers to school campuses. The state Board of Education allocated $100 million to increase the number of SRO positions in the state from 190 to about 300. Many districts, however, said they can’t fill many of these roles due to a shortage of available officers in the community. Back in July, Phoenix police said due to being over 500 officers short, they couldn’t fulfill a request to be at roughly 71 schools in Phoenix this year.

“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 said during a May 22 news conference.

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