Brewer: Put more police in schools

But she opposes proposals to arm teachers, principals
2013-01-11T00:00:00Z Brewer: Put more police in schoolsHoward Fischer Capitol Media Services Arizona Daily Star
January 11, 2013 12:00 am  • 

PHOENIX - Parting ways with some other Republicans, Gov. Jan Brewer said Thursday that she does not want armed teachers, principals or volunteers in public schools.

The governor said she is instead leaning toward the idea of restoring at least some of the state funds that schools used to hire trained police officers.

Money for "school resource officers" has been cut sharply in past years to help the state balance its budget. But Arizona now is looking at a possible $600 million surplus for the coming fiscal year.

Her stance puts her in the same camp as House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, who advanced his own plan for more school resource officers earlier in the week.

"I believe in safe areas," Brewer said.

"We need to make sure that our most precious resources are safe," the governor continued. "I will do what it is I can do moving forward in regards to school safety."

But Brewer said given all the demands on state funding, she cannot agree to the $100 million cost for Campbell's plan for more officers, which she called unrealistic.

Details of her own plan will come Monday in her State of the State address.

Brewer acknowledged some Republican colleagues believe the best way to protect children is to have more people with guns in schools.

Attorney General Tom Horne proposed having each school designate a single, trained, individual who would have access to weapons that presumably would remain locked up until needed. Horne offered to make his 36 investigators, all of whom are sworn peace officers, available to provide training to those individuals.

And earlier this week, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said he sees no reason why individual teachers who own guns should not be able to bring them to work.

Brewer said Horne and Mongomery are "entitled to their opinion," but, she said, "I'm not a supporter of that."

On a related budget issue, Brewer also has to decide soon whether the state will expand the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state's Medicaid program, to cover those who earn 133 percent of the federal poverty level - about $25,400 a year for a family of three.

Arizona currently provides care up to the federal poverty level, with some exceptions.

While the main considera-tion is whether to expand health coverage, with the federal government picking up most of the cost, the link to gun safety is that it will provide more people with mental-health coverage.

There is evidence some people involved in mass shootings, including Jared Lee Loughner in the 2011 Tucson incident that left six dead, had fallen through the cracks in the mental-health system and not received treatment that might have precluded their actions.

Brewer, though, reiterated her stance that additional restrictions on weapons are not appropriate. And she chastised those who are making such calls.

"You know, some people want to make this such an exaggerated issue," she said.

"But the bottom line is that it's part of the Constitution," the governor continued. "It's the Second Amendment of the land."

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