Virginia Debates Putting Armed Guards In Schools | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

Virginia Debates Putting Armed Guards In Schools

Play associated audio

Members of a Virginia task force are considering a proposal to put an armed resource officer at every school. About 47 percent of Virginia schools currently have school resource officers, mostly high schools and middle schools.

One proposal now under consideration by a special task force created by Gov. Bob McDonnell would recommend the hiring of more than 1,000 new officers. 

"I think the security resource officers are important. We have them in a lot of our schools here in Arlington," says Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington), a member of the task force. "But I'm talking to principals who don't have them, and they don't have them for a reason,  because they don't think they are necessary."

Hope is concerned members will endorse the effort to put the officers — known as SROs — at every school.

"I fear that's the direction they are going, not that I oppose more SROs. I do think, however, there are probably more important things given that we have a finite amount of money," he says.

If the proposed positions are all full-time, the estimated cost to the general fund in the first year would be $134 million. That statewide standardized program would replace the current patchwork approach. Currently, some of the officers are armed while others are not; some are sworn officers, while others are not.

"It varies from place to place," says State Sen. George Barker (D-Fairfax County). "Some places they are police officers, and other places they are simply a security guard police officer who is not a member of the police department."

Barker, who is also a member of the task force, has introduced legislation that would facilitate the hiring of retired police officers to work as school resource officers. "We worked out an arrangement so that they could work as school resource officers without so that they could work as school resource officers without it impacting the retirement system," he says.

The task force is expected to issue its recommendations by the end of January.

NPR

As Summer Winds Down, Wistful Dreams Of A 'Lost Estate'

The scent of fresh pencils is in the air, and homework assignments are around the corner. In honor of back-to-school season, author Alexander Aciman recommends The Lost Estate by Henri Alain-Fournier.
NPR

A Food Crisis Follows Africa's Ebola Crisis

Food shortages are emerging in the wake of West Africa's Ebola epidemic. Market shelves are bare and fields are neglected because traders can't move and social gatherings are discouraged.
WAMU 88.5

McDonnell Corruption Trial: Former Gov Defends Relationship With Jonnie Williams

On the stand today, the former Virginia governor defended his relationship with the businessman at the heart of the trial, saying it was appropriate.
NPR

Coming Soon To A Pole Near You: A Bike That Locks Itself

Cyclists may soon have a convenient way to discourage bike thieves, thanks to new designs that use parts of the bikes themselves as locks.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.