Henry Wade: Revive the School Resource Officer Program

By Henry Wade

December 31, 2012 - 12:52 pm
Henry Wade, chairman of Pinal County Democratic Party

According to Wikipedia in a political context, the concept of bait and switch is: “In lawmaking, ‘caption bills’ that propose minor changes in law with simplistic titles (the bait) are introduced to the legislature with the ultimate objective of substantially changing the wording (the switch) at a later date in order to try to smooth the passage of a controversial or major amendment. Rule changes are also proposed (the bait) to meet legal requirements for public notice and mandated public hearings, then different rules are proposed at a final meeting (the switch), thus bypassing the objective of public notice and public discussion on the actual rules voted upon. While legal, the political objective is to get legislation or rules passed without expected negative community review.”

The Republican Party is very adept in using these types of tactics to redirect attention from an issue by shifting to a connected and/or related cause. This tactic is currently being used in earnest by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its many surrogates popping up across the country. Here in Pinal County, it is absolutely expected that Sheriff Babeu would pick-up that mantle and run with it. Particularly, since he fancies himself as a spokesman of sorts for the county.

I, like many other citizens, believe that having a firearm to protect my person, family and possessions is my Constitutional right and will not give up my right just because any group of individuals believe they have dominion over the Second Amendment. However, I don’t believe it is prudent to add more opportunities for individuals to be harmed by gunfire from weapons of war. Regardless of the level of training, firearms in the hands of nonprofessional law enforcement officers or military members is a recipe for disaster.

Enter in the state of Arizona’s decision to cut funding for School Resource Officers (SRO) on campuses. If we agree, and some won’t, that having armed individuals on campus is where we are headed, then wouldn’t the correct and probably more expedient way to get there be to properly re-fund the SRO program. Also, since the NRA has agreed to assist in this massive effort, then should we not reach out to local chapters to contribute if the state finds itself suffering with a shortfall to funding?

Unfortunately living in a state that suggests allowing firearms on college campuses is a sane idea and with a county sheriff promoting changing gun-free zoning ordinances, we are probably going to continue to move towards the recommendations and benefit of the firearms industry and its political supporters. So, why not put the responsibility back in the hands of the SROs who have been sworn to “protect and serve” and not abrogate their rights to principals and administrators, committed to teach?

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