Apr 10, 2018 | In the News, Law & Crime

U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins envisions a future with a new class of police officers working in the nation’s schools.

Higgins said these would be Tactical School Resource Officers, or TSROs. His idea is to place approximately 200,000 of them — two per school — on the job, at a potential cost of up to $10 billion per year.

“Right now we have school resource officers. They’ve been through training. They are very special people. They have the patience to deal with kids. But they are not tactically certified,” Higgins said. “There’s never really been a marriage of tactical training with school resource officer training. This would be a special man or woman who has the ability to do both.”

The idea comes about two months after a shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school left 17 people dead and elevated national and local discussions about school safety.

Higgins said the TSROs would be officers already on staff at law enforcement agencies. The cost would be about $50,000 per year, per officer. Higgins said he believes the funds could come from existing resources.

“This would be a highly sought-after job in that department,” he said. “They would be responsible for training the school and would be part of the police department’s tactical team. They would work with the school on policies and training. You would train your school and you would train with your SWAT team.”

Before he pursues legislation creating the new positions, Higgins said he has authored two other bills he would like to see passed first. One would require federal agencies to survey all of the country’s public schools to find out how many school resource officers are currently in place. The other bill would direct the Departments of Justice and Education to develop a set of best practices for resource officers.

The bills are pending in the Congressional judiciary and education committees. Higgins said they have received widespread, bipartisan support thus far, and he is optimistic about their final passage.

“Because this data doesn’t exist and because these standards don’t exist, we have to get that done in order for us to move forward with this massive legislative undertaking of putting a couple of TSROs in every school,” he said.

Higgins said the philosophy behind the TSROs is what he feels is a necessary “cultural change” on school security, similar to changes that happened in the air travel industry after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

“Airlines used to be a soft target. They’re certainly not anymore. We had a cultural change,” he said. “We need a similar cultural change in response to these school shootings, to protect our kids and teachers.”

Amanda McElfresh, The Daily Advertiser

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