NJ schools add armed officers at steep cost
One wealthy township is stationing the officers in schools for 90 days. Added security is a top concern for educators and parents after last month's Connecticut shootings.
The new policy may not have garnered much attention before. But arming school guards has been a hotly debated subject in the weeks since a 20-year-old gunman stormed into Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., and killed 20 children and six educators.
Hiring armed security officers, an idea advocated by the National Rifle Association, may cost the nation's cash-strapped schools more than $5 billion, according to published reports.
The cost for the patrols by eight off-duty Marlboro police officers for the next 90 days is expected to be $100,000, district spokeswoman Sharon Witchell said in an interview. Marlboro schools already have two armed officers, and before the Newtown massacre there was no conversation about increasing that number. An assessment will be done after 90 days and the district will decide what action to take next, such as hiring a security consultant.
Marlboro is hardly alone. In the days after the senseless slaughter at Sandy Hook, many schools have reviewed their security policies. My son's elementary school, for instance, now requires visitors to show photo identification before entering the building. But the NRA's call for "armed guards" in schools and allowing teachers and other personnel to carry weapons has aroused much concern among educators. Experts have cautioned that it could create costly insurance liabilities for districts in the event of a gun fight in which innocent people were shot and possibly killed.
Though President Obama has eloquently expressed the nation's heartache over Newtown, under his administration funding for programs to combat school violence has been cut and more emphasis has been put on bullying prevention, according to Ken Trump, a school safety expert.
"While no one can say whether these programs would have specifically prevented the Sandy Hook attack, it can easily be argued that the elimination of these federal grant programs de-emphasized school security, school police, school emergency preparedness, and school violence," he wrote on his blog, adding the Obama administration has "quietly eliminated all programs associated with the security, policing, emergency preparedness, violence prevention, and mental health school safety programs."
The track record of police officers in schools is a mixed one. Many experts have argued that the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, a program in which officers educated kids about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, was ineffective. There is no guarantee that they could have prevented the tragedy at Newtown. Indeed, many commentators have noted that an armed officer was on duty in 1999 during the mass shooting at Columbine High School.
"We do not object to increased funding for school resource officers, but would like to see more emphasis placed upon school resource officers and educators being trained together in bullying, school safety, cultural competence, positive behavioral supports, and appropriate classroom management," writes Kim Anderson, the National Education Association's senior director of its Center for Advocacy and Outreach, in an email. "We are also mindful that school districts should not simply use the presence of an (armed officer) to improperly substitute criminal justice-oriented treatment of students rather than appropriate implementation of effective school conduct codes and discipline policies."
About 23% of the nation's school districts have law enforcement officers in their buildings, according to Francisco Negron, general counsel of the National School Boards Association. These officers typically earn about $80,000 per year. The group hasn't taken a position on whether more teachers and other school personnel should be armed.
"Different communities have different needs," he said, adding that the NSBA is concerned that policy makers could institute a one-size-fits-all approach to school safety in the aftermath of Newtown. "These are things that have to be decided on a local basis."
NRA head Wayne LaPierre has argued that there are plenty of people with weapons training such as members of the military who could be deployed to protect kids in schools right away. They aren't the same, though, as sworn police officers with additional training in counseling so they can build a rapport with students.
Follow Jonathan Berr on Twitter @jdberr
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You're kidding, right? Armed off-duty Police Officers getting premium wages to check out high school chicks in mini-skirts? Just another Old Guy problem that will escalate. Is there any Viagra screening being done?
Or you could offer good weapons training to qualified teachers and allow them to carry a concealed weapon. Before you give me some ridiculous scenario abour a deranged teacher stop and think whether a deranged teacher could just bring a gun to school anyway. At least this way a few anonymous people on school grounds would be able to defend innocent people from future armed madmen.
Think about it. It's a good idea and it's free to taxpayers.
This is a sweet job for 8 cops, that are working part time....When do they rest ??
Off duty Marlboro officers ?
By my calculations at a good wage (w/o benefits) They are paying roughly $35,000 too much for the 3-month period...
For what I consider a "cream puff job."
Seems certainly that the Marlboro officials, have way more money then brains....
This is why the government shouldn't run anything. $100,000 for 8 guys over 90 days? Lets say all 8 work every school day for those 90 days. That is roughly 65 days of actual work (13 weeks * 5 days). School doesn't last 8 hours in most locals but we will say it does. That is a total man power of 4,160 hrs (8 hr/day * 65 days/officer * 8 officers). $100,000/4,160 is $24/hr which is equivalent to a salary of $49,920 for a 2nd job (they are off duty officers). That is assuming they work 8 hrs per day every day which I would bet anything the don't do. It is more likely a rotation since they already have full-time jobs. Must be nice.
Here are some numbers to consider... The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 1,028,830 security guards were working in 2009, earning an average wage of $12.70 per hour or $26,430 per year. The highest 10 percent of earners made an average of $19.34 per hour or $40,230 per year. That means this school district is paying DOUBLE the average rate and ~25% premium to the average of the TOP 10%. Another source said Armed Security Guards have an average salary of $31,000 ($14.90/hr). The school is paying a 61% premium to those numbers. No matter how you crack it. They are overpaying AT LEAST 25% or $25,000. And people want to give the government more control?!?!?!?! Unbelievable.
Seeing how bad the $100,000 is for these 8 guys, I won't bother going into the other part of the story, "About 23% of the nation's school districts have law enforcement officers in their buildings, according to Francisco Negron, general counsel of the National School Boards Association. These officers typically earn about $80,000 per year." You want to give me $80,000 to walk around a high school with a gun, I am all over it.
Yeah thnkit...That's pretty much what I thought,but I used $20 per/hour and about 7 hrs. per day tops.
That pretty much why I said they are overpaying about $35,000 AT LEAST..
FOR A "CREAM PUFF" JOB..........IMO
The $52 billion spent on foreign aid in 2010 would be enough to pay for the salaries (ave cop salary in US about $50,400/yr) the salaries of 10 cops for each of the roughly 100,000 public schools in the US.
I guess helping arm Pakistan is more important.
How much is a child's life worth folks?
The problem I see is we spend too much on government. But why not at least prioritize the spending for something worthwhile?
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