In a speech responding to the massacre of 20 elementary school children and six teachers in Connecticut last Friday, the NRA called for armed police officers to be stationed in schools across the country.

I’ll be honest here: of all the ideas I’ve heard over the past week that involved putting more guns into schools to prevent gun violence (e.g. arming teachers), this is probably the least ridiculous.

The jury is still out on whether this is a good or bad idea, and whether this would actually stop another Sandy Hook or at least limit the damage, but if we’re opening up discussions about all options, then let’s talk about what it would take to implement the plan and, more importantly, what it would cost.

Ohio has 3,625 school buildings – which means at least this many full-time law enforcement officers would need to be hired or redirected to schools in order put one law enforcement officer in every school building. An eight hour day seems unlikely if we are serious about protecting teachers and kids who show up early and who stay late for extracurricular programs, but we’ll stick to a one-officer-per-day-per-school assumption just to make the math easier.

With a going rate of about $40/hr for off-duty officers, we’re looking at a minimum of around $60,000 a year per school for a full time officer – or nearly $220 Million dollars statewide, just for the salaries.

Assuming these are all new hires, we’re talking about A LOT of new police officers. The Ohio Highway Patrol, for example, only employees 1,500 troopers. This new group of school police officers would be twice that size even before we include management and support personnel. (prediction: Public Safety Director Tom Charles will propose a plan to put Troopers in schools within the next month)

And it’s a lot of money. Just the salary – before you factor in everything else like benefits or liability insurance in case a student is accidentally shot – is nearly the same as all the money the Ohio Turnpike brought in this year. Add in the rest of those costs, and we could be talking twice that amount.

Without a doubt, deploying trained law enforcement professionals to schools is a much better option than handing out guns to gym teachers, or hiring $8/hour private security guards. But could it really work in Ohio?

Some of our state’s school districts already use “resource officers”, which are typically sheriff’s deputies or other law enforcement officers on loan to the schools during the school year. Many are part time, while others work a full-time schedule and split their days between multiple school buildings in a district. The funding for these officers typically comes from multiple sources, including the school district, the county, the police department/sheriff’s office and a variety of federal, state and local grants.

But the money, especially at the state level and, indirectly, at the county and local level, is drying up.

Recent cuts to education and local government funding by Governor Kasich have actually resulted in the layoff of resource officers. And it will likely get worse next year.

Kasich cut nearly $1.3 BILLION from Ohio’s schools in his first budget, while making huge cuts – 50% in the 2013 budget – to the local government fund. And we’re expecting even bigger cuts to be announced in his next budget, including a potential 100% cut of the local government fund so Kasich can pay for an income tax cut he thinks will help win him reelection in 2014.

So… Yes, putting trained law enforcement professionals in schools is the best of all the protective options.

But could it really be implemented in Ohio under the current administration?


Schools, cities, counties and everyone else will be strapped for cash as Kasich steals their funding to pay for his reelection campaign. And given Kasich’s history with law enforcement and Ohio’s “idiot” cops, there’s no chance we’ll see expanded resource officer funding – or any funding for local first responders – unless someone on Kasich’s team does some polling that determines it’s going to help John win a few more votes.

  • Paul

    I agree, as distasteful as it may seem perhaps an armed guard or two at each school might be a solution. However, I believe that these costs should be born by gun owners who would pay a federal tax on gun sales, ammunition, and other gun related parts and equipment at the time of purchase. Just as cigarettes and alcohol are taxed, if you want to participate in activities that are dangerous to the health of others then you need to contribute via taxes to the health and safety of the rest of society. This tax would pay for the costs of protecting our children from the gun lovers and will discourage casual gun sales by making he cost of owning a gun prohibitive except for those who believe owning a gun is the only way they can function in a civilised society.

  • amyvav

    Most of the schools in our area had resource officers for a few years, mostly funded by grant money. They were sheriff deputies from our county. For the past week, we had an officer on duty throughout our school day, mostly as a reassurance to parents and because of multiple visitors for holiday activities. I had forgotten how beneficial the program was. Not only are the deputies there for protection, they are wonderful role models. They interact with the students, providing advice and guidance. Most importantly, the kids got to know the officers as regular people, not “the cops.” They also didn’t hesitate in situations where maybe a teacher would: searching a bookbag, asking “tough” questions…
    It is a shame that this is necessary, but unless some major societal changes start happening, it is necessary. Unimaginable things will still happen, but maybe the presence of an officer would deter some and it certainly could minimize the damage. BUT, of course, there’s no money. Your post covered that well. I would just like for people outside the world of education to be open to the idea of having officers – not rent-a-cops – trained, local, professional law enforcement, in our schools.

  • Jor Dough

    Two points. The NRA is correct in that heightened security might prevent another massacre. The trick is in what kind of security element is utilized. The notion that armed ‘volunteers’ are somehow suitable in the abstract may be fine if those ‘volunteers’ possess the necessary skills for such duty. That is doubtful and raises an an enormous void in the NRA-proposed fallacy. The lack of training and skill is not necessarily present in all law enforcement officers, veterans and retired law enforcement officers. Massive training programs and yes, arming and equipping these security personnel, is an enormous physical and financial burden on communities. Even the NRA doesn’t have that much cash. No one is talking about the details. For example: What happens when one of the ‘volunteer’ or paid guards fires up the crowd and innocent bystanders are killed and wounded in a school-ground gun-battle, legitimate or otherwise.

    This might be an appropriate mission for our existing, well regulated militia – the National Guard though I doubt they’d want it.

    I offered comments on the other thread

    about paying for all of this and then some.

    Gun nuts hate the idea of simple financial responsibility by them so they can have their lethal toys at a low cost to fulfill their GI-Joe and doomsday fantasies. The NRA has enabled the proliferation of lethal weaponry into the hands of mental incompetents by lavishing enormous cash contributions – blood money, and ‘lobbying’ perquisites on the incompetent elected officials who always turn a blind-eye to the fact of lethal weapon trafficking and use in the USA by irresponsible gun maker, seller, trainers, and owners. That’s exactly what the NRA wants out of its bought and paid for politicians and they get it.

  • wgood

    Posting police is cost prohibitive. Highly training and arming a cadre of educated professional teachers is a better solution.
    Not sure about sending in “armed volunteers”. That sounds really crazy.

  • Retrofuturistic

    Hmm. I guess if we ended a couple of wars, they could send in the Marines. You know, since they’re already on salary?

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