U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (AZ-08) introduced the Protecting Our Kids Act, which incentivizes the hiring and training of school resource officers (SROs) by giving states that will use the funds for such purposes preferential consideration for COPS Grant applications.
“American children deserve the highest level of safety when they step into their classrooms,” said Congresswoman Lesko. “My bill ensures that the federal government is working alongside state and local jurisdictions to maximize protections for our kids. As elected officials, we should be doing everything within our power to make sure our precious children return home to their families at the end of every school day.”
Under this legislation, states that intend to use COPS Grant funds to hire and train SROs will be given preferential consideration in the grant application process. Current preferential considerations under the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act’s COPS Program include jurisdictions that hire and rehire law enforcement officers when the non-federal contribution exceeds the 25% minimum, and states that have certain laws protecting the rights of human trafficking victims.
Earlier this year, Congresswoman Lesko wrote a letter to the members of the Peoria Unified School District (PUSD), encouraging the Board to apply for grant funding under the Arizona School Safety Program to place school resource officers at PUSD campuses. The Peoria City Council recently voted to add four additional school liaison officers (SLO) and rotate all the SLO’s at every PUSD school, including elementary schools. The Council also mandated a police presence at 22 Peoria schools.
In April, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne released the findings of a poll showing that 81% of Arizona public school parents support having a police officer at their children’s schools, and that 78% think that safety at schools is very important.