empty school hallway
Arizona Department Of Education Poll Reflects Support For K-12 Campus Police

April 19, 2023

By Corinne Murdock |

The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) released polling results last week reflecting around 80 percent support for police presence on K-12 campuses.

ADE contracted OH Predictive Insights to conduct the poll on public support for school resource officers. In a press release, ADE Superintendent Tom Horne stated that officers serve as an integral part of a healthy K-12 environment, providing safety while teaching classes and bonding with the students.

“They not only provide safety, but teach classes, and become friendly with students, so that students learn to trust them, rather than viewing police as enemies,” said Horne. “The worst tragedy one can imagine would be if a maniac invaded a school and killed 20 children, as has happened in other states, and that school passed up the opportunity to have a resource officer present to protect the students and staff.” 

According to the poll results, 78 percent of respondents considered school safety very important and 81 percent supported police presence on campus. 

The poll data came out just before the Phoenix Union High School District (PXU) voted to delay bringing back campus police. The vote came days after a high schooler at Betty Fairfax High School was arrested for carrying a gun onto campus.

Also in the press release, Horne urged PXU to hire school resource officers. It doesn’t appear that PXU plans to heed his call. 

A poll completed last year with the PXU community reflected majority support for police presence on campuses. According to that poll, 80 percent supported officers on campus, and 82 percent testified to witnessing positive interactions between school resource officers and students. 

PXU removed officers in 2021, following activist efforts associated with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests and riots prompted by the death of George Floyd. 

Last Saturday was the deadline for ADE’s school safety grant applications. However, ADE noted in its press release that it would grant exceptions for late applications through this Saturday, April 22.

Horne warned back in February that schools without law enforcement presence wouldn’t be recommended to the State Board of Education for school safety funding.

“Every school should have a law enforcement officer to protect students and staff, and this should be accomplished on an urgent basis,” said Horne. “Delay in implementing this goal could leave schools more vulnerable to a tragic catastrophe. Schools that currently have no armed presence yet submit grants applications that do not request an officer will not receive a recommendation from this Department to the State Board of Education.”

Along with the poll, ADE issued a letter to every mayor throughout the state asking for support in establishing law enforcement presence on every campus. ADE is also awaiting data from local police departments on the impact of school resource officers.

In order to handle this initiative, ADE appointed a director of school safety: Michael Kurtenbach. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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