Our community is grateful today to receive a two-year state grant of nearly $1,000,000 to fund 13 additional school resource officers in Cumberland County schools.
However, I believe we must acknowledge that school resource officers are an essential infrastructure investment to keep our children safe, and all campuses must be included. Public safety is a primary responsibility of government – something that citizens cannot reasonably be expected to provide for themselves, so government must.
As a candidate for the North Carolina Legislature, I was asked a few days ago to identify my top two priorities for action in the General Assembly. I responded, “1. Funding at least one school resource officer for each public-school campus.”
For many years I have advocated for infrastructure – including personnel needed to keep our community safe – county jail expansion, additional police officers, and a more effective court system. These are all important, and community leaders have stepped up to provide the resources for these initiatives –but we now know there are more challenges.
Recurring funding for the additional officers needed here, and across the state, is not something that can be left to strained local communities and school boards. It is imperative that our legislature step up to provide permanent funding for school resource officers that will allow us to maintain at least one fulltime officer at every school.
Cumberland County has 87 public school campuses, with 43 school resource officers currently in place. Adding 13 more resource officers over the next two years will leave 31 schools without an armed law enforcement officer on campus now, and unless we identify permanent funding, elementary school students will go unprotected.
This is an expensive proposal. More than $100 million a year – but an essential infrastructure need, just as we fund other support personnel in our schools.
My commitment to public safety has never been stronger – nor the need greater. If elected to represent the citizens of NC House District 44, I commit to making school resource officers, and school safety my top priority. I call on other candidates and members of our legislative delegation to do the same.