State AG: Police officer more important in schools than armed guard
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent March 8, 2013 3:02PM
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller talks with the media outside the Government Complex, in Crown Point, after filing a civil lawsuit against a former court clerk on Tuesday, October 4, 2011. | Scott R. Brandush~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 10, 2013 6:10AM
A police presence in schools may be a more effective tool in preventing violence and crime than the weapon that officer carries, according to the state’s top lawyer.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said for about a year now he has been working on programs that would strengthen the role of the school resource officer, a position that when employed properly works to bridge the gap between law enforcement and young people, he said.
“This is not to be confused with having an armed guard at the door,” Zoeller said.
Zoeller appeared Friday before members of the Lake County Advancement Committee to discuss the role of the attorney general and the future of the office.
“A lot of times kids think of police as the bad guy,” Zoeller said. The use of school resource officers would help erase that perception and create a link between police and young people, he said.
Zoeller said he has discussed the role of school resource officer with other attorneys general and they said the key role of that officer is to build and strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and students.
When that relationship exists students are more likely to report a problem, such as a bully, a drug dealer or a potential threat, to the officer because of the trust that has developed. That officer is also more likely to hear about students who may be victims of abuse at school or at home. Those open lines of communication create a means for intervention to help prevent problems from escalating into potential tragedies.
“Where they do have a school resource officer it eliminates a lot of problems. You can identify these problems that can come back as horrible situations (before they do),” Zoeller said.