As Arizona schools struggle to find school resource officers, state rolls out short-term solution

By Bridget Dowd
Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2023 - 4:29pm
Updated: Thursday, October 19, 2023 - 11:43am

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Bridget Dowd/KJZZ
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne held a press conference on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023, to announce a short-term solution to the state's school resource officer shortage.

Earlier this year, the Arizona Department of Education granted funding to every school that asked for money to get police officers on campus. But many of them haven’t been able to fill those positions due to an officer shortage. ADE announced the roll out of a short-term solution Wednesday.

The department has contracted with a company called Off Duty Management, which connects off duty police officers with other jobs, like traffic enforcement. Now the company will send cops who have the day off to serve as School Safety Officers at multiple schools, in 11 Arizona counties.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne said different officers will rotate through the schools, which might make it hard to cultivate relationships with students.

“We’re hoping that ultimately the shortage of police officers will be solved and they can all be school resource officers," he said. "But in the meantime, at least we can keep the kids safe.”

The difference between a school resource officer and a school safety officer is that the latter only gets eight hours of job specific training, instead of 40. More than 30 school districts have already opted in to the program. 

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