With the Oro Valley Police Department having its School Resource Officer (SRO) program well established and the state’s governor calling to expand state funding, the Marana and Tucson police departments have to consider following suit.
Last month, during Gov. Jan Brewer’s State of the State address, she spoke about taking steps to lessen the likelihood of a similar Sandy Hook Elementary-like tragedy happening in Arizona without turning schools into fortresses.
“Part of the solution is something that already has a track record of success: the School Resource Officer,” Brewer said. “My budget plan will expand state funding for these trained officers.”
In years past, both the Marana Police Department and Tucson Police Department had SRO programs, but were cut due to a lack of funding.
The Marana Police Department is hoping to budget for the program and institute it once again in 2014, according the Sgt. Jose Alvarez of the department.
“One of our main goals is to bring them back,” Alvarez said. “But right now, as far as we have gotten is trying to put together a budget to fund that.”
They are looking into the possibility to get grants to help fund it, but other schools with higher crime rates are given higher preference for those grants.
The Tucson Police Department discontinued its SRO program in 2007 due to budget issues within the city, according to Sgt. Chris Widmer of the department.
“Unfortunately, as much as we love the program and want it back, the city can’t afford to bring those guys back in just yet,” Widmer said.
Currently, both departments have their officers patrol schools within their beat and respond to calls that take place on the school grounds. They simply don’t have a police officer at the school throughout the entire day.
“The program was great, the officers liked it, the school’s staff and students liked it – they got to interact,” Widmer said. “It is something that we would love to have back, but just fiscally, it is not possible right now.”