Arkansas PAnel Calls for Armed Presence at All Schools

Arkansas Panel Calls for Armed Presence at All Schools

Arkansas looks for ways to boost security on campuses.

The Arkansas School Safety Commission has issued its preliminary report on school shootings and recommends that every school have an armed presence, including a trained resource officer whenever financially feasible.

Sixty-eight percent of Arkansas' 230 school districts have an armed security presence with school resource officers, but in order to make the state's schools safer, the commission is recommending all schools have and armed presence.

"The commission found that the number of SROs has increased by 92 in the last five years, but we need to expand the availability of school resource officers so that campuses can be protected," Gov. Asa Hutchinson said.

The commission recommends school districts who can't afford SROs to increase officer traffic at their school. In Bentonville, the police department treats the local schools as part of their route. When they aren't on call or responding to an accident, officers on-duty check out the nearest school to ensure everything is going well.

The report also calls for increased mental health resources for students, anti-bullying programs and mandatory school safety assessments verified by the state every three years.

They also said student access to mental health services needs to improve because school counselors are currently spending more time on administrative work than counseling students that need it.

"There is not a more important assignment that we have then to protect our school children and to make sure that our schools are safe and parents are comfortable dropping their kids off in a safe environment," Gov. Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson provided few specifics on the cost for armed officers and additional mental health services, but says the state will likely look for ways to provide financial aid.

About the Author

Sydny Shepard is the Executive Editor of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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