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School safety bill introduced into General Assembly

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Calling it a “good first step” for school safety, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller outlined a proposed bill that would create a uniform standard for the school resource officers.

Senate Bill 270, introduced Jan. 3 by State Sen. Pete Miller, R-Avon, defines the qualifications for being a school resource officer as well as the duties of that position. In addition, the legislation would provide matching grants that school corporations could use to support their own SROs.

Miller is a member of the Senate Education and Career Development Committee.

Both Zoeller and Miller emphasized this bill is an initial step and not the single answer to improving school safety.

“I think the state government, the legislators, the governor-elect (Mike) Pence, (education) superintendent-elect (Glenda) Ritz will all have several opportunities to consider proposals on school safety,” Zoeller said, “but as a first step, Sen. Miller and I would like to propose to expand upon a program that’s currently in place in the state of Indiana and has shown proven benefit.”

Although Zoeller noted this bill “reflects a little bit” of the shooting at the Newtown, Conn., elementary school in December, he emphasized his office was working on this legislation before that tragic event. It builds upon the current system in place by providing a $10 million boost in additional funding.

“I think it’s particularly important these positions be expanded upon in light of the tragedy in Connecticut,” the attorney general said of SROs. “I think school safety is on the minds of a lot of parents and the public at large.”

The legislation defines that the SRO must be either a school employee or law enforcement officer who has completed a training program and received certification. The duties of these officers include promoting school safety, addressing bullying and mentoring students.

Zoeller backed away from questions that the bill opens the door for teachers and coaches to become SROs. He noted to be a school resource officer, individuals will have to go through law enforcement training and that the position is most closely related to law enforcement.

A key hurdle, Zoeller and Miller acknowledge, is money. In a press release, the funding was described as “conceptual at this point.” The bill calls for an appropriation of $10 million into the Indiana Safe School Fund from which state matching grants will be drawn. These grants of up to $50,000 would be available to school corporations for two years.

Miller called the grants “seed money.” Permanent funding would have to come from the local sources or other legislative means.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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