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Guess what? Police in schools isn't so crazy

After the Newtown shooting, National Rifle Association CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre proposed putting armed police officers in every school.

By the response he received from some quarters, you would have thought LaPierre suggested giving second graders Uzis.

The New York Daily News proclaimed LaPierre the "craziest man on earth."

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter called the proposal "a completely dumbass idea."  American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said on Metronews Talkline, "We should be getting guns out of schools not in schools."

But why is the idea being summarily dismissed?

Importantly, the NRA later revised its proposal. NRA President David Keen told CNN his organization believes the decision of whether to have armed security guards should be left up to the individual school.

Many schools have already chosen to have police on or near the grounds.

In 1998, then-President Bill Clinton, with the support of many Democrats in Congress at the time, pushed through the Community Oriented Policing Services program. The federal government distributed grant money to schools for additional security measures, including metal detectors and police officers.

In April, 2000, the Los Angeles Times reported, "marking the first anniversary of the shooting deaths at Columbine High School, President Clinton announced $120 million in new federal grants Saturday to place more officers in schools."

 Clinton said at the time that the additional money would provide 452 additional school officers.

National Review quotes Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., as saying in 2004 of the COPS program, "Getting more police officers on school grounds will go a long way to making sure our kids stay out of harm's way."

What has changed?

Nothing except the politics. Democrats supported COPS during the Clinton years, then President Bush cut funding for it.

Here's an idea: Let's see if having armed police in schools actually works.

The National Association of School Resource Officers, which represents school-based law enforcement officers, supports the NRA's proposal and claims it's already making schools safer.

"A well-trained, armed, school-based police officer is one of the best defenses against an active shooter in a school," said NASRO Executive Director Mo Canady.

An armed guard is no guarantee against violence - Columbine High School had a security guard - but Canady claims that, on average, violence and juvenile crime decrease in schools that have a police presence.

That should be easy enough to confirm or refute.

If having an armed, well-trained security officer in schools does make them safer, then there is no logical reason not to put them there if that's what school districts want.

Kercheval is host of TalkLine, broadcast by the MetroNews Statewide Radio Network from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. The show can be heard locally on WCHS 580 AM.


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