AZ republicans work to raise SRO count, in latest push to place guns in schools

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AZ republicans work to raise SRO count, in latest push to place guns in schools

CREATED Jan 15, 2013

Reporter: Maggie Vespa

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - These vicious attacks on our schools, like last month's at Sandy Hook Elementary, touch a nerve with just about all of us.

But what can we do about them?
That question has, once again, sparked a heated gun control debate across the country and here in Arizona, where republicans say it's better to arm the good guys than live in fear.

"It's the latest in a plethera of proposals aimed at placing an armed presence in Arizona schools, but here Phoenix tonight proponents of this plan say this is the first one worth putting into action."

Move over, Attorney General!
Your suggestion to train and arm teachers and administrators has just been pegged, "plan B."
"That's not the route that I would have wanted to go, but there are certain communities that want that privilege," said State Senator Richard Crandall (R-Mesa).  "This legislation will allow them to do that."
So what's "plan A"?  
If you ask Crandall, and Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, it would be this:
Hire roughly 300 SRO's, or school resource officers, and deploy them into Arizona schools.
"They are a uniformed presence that's armed, that can respond to any threat, especially an active shooter scenario," said Babeu (R).
There are already about 300 SRO's stationed statewide.  100 of them are funded by tax dollars.
Which brings us to a warning.  This plan will cost you!  $30 million to be exact.
Pretty pricey, admits Crandall, for a program that saw its funding cut completely in recent years.
"That's not where we need to be heading," he said.  "Let's look at a different revenue stream, find a different direction, so that we don't cut it again."
Senator Crandall says the cash, or at least half of it, is in an overflowing 'Clean Elections Fund'.
The rest still has to be scrounged up.
Supporters say the plan is worth every penny, and they argue it's time gun control advocates got on board, before another gunman decides to target our kids.
"If we said to our voters, 'Hey, would you rather pay for a politician's campaign or a police officer in a school?', I don't know.  I think the voters would say 'I'd rather have school safety and security,'" said Crandall.
"These are people who don't follow the laws," he said.  "That's what I'm saying is, I'm trying to get people who may be on the other side to just think for a minute, what's the alternative?"
Senator Crandall says the earliest voters could see this plan on a ballot, is 2014.
If this plan goes through, lawmakers would have about 700 SRO's to spread out across Arizona's 2,200 schools.
The program would be voluntary, with schools receiving officers through an application-based system.