By Lindsay Marchello, Carolina Journal News Service- U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-11th District, thinks boosting funding for school resource officers — not gun control — is the best way to protect schools.
Meadows on Tuesday, March 6, introduced two bills to enhance school security after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
“Our country is in the midst of a defining moment where we have an opportunity to come together and develop common-sense solutions to safeguard our children in school,” Meadows said in a statement.
H.R. 5185, or the Protect America’s Schools Act, would appropriate $1.5 billion for the Community Oriented Policing Services’ School Resource Officer program. The COPS program helps provide grant funding, technical assistance, and resources for local government agencies to staff schools with SROs.
H.R. 5186, or the Veterans Securing Schools Act, would allow state or local veterans to serve as school resources officers.
North Carolina already has a similar law allowing school districts and local sheriffs to set up a volunteer SROs program. Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page announced plans Feb. 28 to set up such a program, with the support of Speaker of the House Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham.
“While gun control is not the answer, the best and most effective path forward, I believe, is one that safeguards our schools from becoming ‘soft targets,’ or areas with little to stand in the way of someone with bad intentions,” Meadows said.
Meadows first proposed the Protect America’s Schools Act in 2013. It called for $30 million in appropriated funds for SROs, but the bill never gained traction.
Henderson County Sheriff Charles McDonald voiced support for the bills.
“As counties like ours look at the myriad of options to improve school safety, this initial funding for School Resource Officers is a great step to ensure that our local governments have access to the funding they need should they determine that increased officer presence is one facet of the strategy they want to adopt,” McDonald said in a statement.