Lawmakers call for funding for more school resource officers
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Some lawmakers are hoping the Texas school shooting will mean new energy for a plan to keep students safe in New York schools.
Albany Republicans are pushing a bill to help school systems statewide afford School Resource Officers.
“This horrible tragedy, bringing back to the forefront,” declared 133rd District Republican Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes, “the importance of having security as best as we can provide it, for the kids, for the visitors, for the teachers, for the parents, for everybody.”
After the deadly shooting in Texas, Governor Kathy Hochul now says state troopers will check in on schools every day.
Byrnes’ plan, Assembly Bill 9432, calls for new funding for school resource officers SROs, permanently in schools across the state, especially those that may not have been able to afford them.
"If there are, especially, rural districts at home to have the financial resources, or private schools, or Christian schools that don’t have the financial resources, everybody could be afforded the same level of security,” she explained.
Under Byrnes plan, the state would help pay for law enforcement or retired law enforcement to become part of a school’s community. The SROs could be armed or unarmed, and deployed as each school system decides.
The notion has its critics.
"We knew that, as soon as this happened, the knee-jerk reaction would be call for more cops in schools,” Said Stevie Vargas with Citizen Action of New York.
Activists, who have fought to get SROs out of Rochester schools say no thanks.
They say that kind of protection would be upsetting for students in Rochester.
"School resource officers make them feel profiled in an environment where they are supposed to feel safe,” Vargas said.
Byrnes is hoping there’s time to get out of an Albany logjam she says is political.
"This is too important to play those petty games,” she exclaimed.
At the moment, the SRO bill is stranded in the Assembly education committee. She says now is the time to get it out in the legislature and onto Governor Hochul’s desk.
“We could have a law in a week. It just takes the leadership to say ‘let’s move it. Let’s vote on it.’”