Gov. Pence approves Indiana school safety grants - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Gov. Pence approves Indiana school safety grants

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INDIANA (WFIE) -

Governor Mike Pence signed a bill providing $10 million to heighten security in Indiana schools.

Schools will be given up to $50,000 to hire and train school resource officers and purchase new safety technology. 

The bill was controversial because at one point, it would have required schools to hire an armed officer, but that part of the legislation was dropped.

Parents 14 News spoke with on Tuesday say this law is a strong first step to making their children safer.Gov. 

"All children need to be kept safe. I don't care who they are, where they are, that's the number one priority for all educators now, is the safety of students. It used to be academics and how well students did on certain things, the number one thing now is safety," teacher Fay Garrett says.

Garrett has been a teacher for nearly 40 years. As a supporter of school resource officers, she says they interact well with students, but at the end of the day, she says, "The students realize he's not there to be their buddy or their friend or something like that, (he's there to) protect them, for your safety."

Attorney General Greg Zoeller says it's that relationship that is key. 

"It really helps focus on the relationship between law enforcement and our youth in the schools," Zoeller says.  

Warrick county Schools Superintendent Brad Schneider says the district's officers are already extremely busy and the funding could be used to maintain existing resources.

"We will look at those resources how best to utilize them. We're very fortunate that we have four resource officers in our schools. I'd love to have six, eight, ten, but obviously the funding is not going to be there," Schneider says.

The bill also requires resource officers to complete police academy or equivalent training. Zoeller says the next step is to protect children from outside threats. 

"It really provides the protection inside the schools. That's not so much the threat from the outside, we'll have to look at that and I know there's a number of study groups that are going to be focused on external threats," Zoeller says.

EVSC officials say the funds may be used to enhance technology and maintain existing resource officers.

Henderson County Schools recently approved funding to install video monitoring surveillance at every school. This is technology that parents say they'd like to see in Indiana schools.

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