Peoria Mayor Commits To School Safety For All

July 19, 2023

By Daniel Stefanski |

A west valley mayor is continuing to keep his commitments to his city.

Last week, Peoria Mayor Jason Beck announced that there would be a police presence at all Peoria Unified School District schools during the 2023-2024 year.

Beck highlighted that there would be four new SLO’s (School Liaison Officers) and rotating SLO’s at every school; that this presence would be expanded to all elementary schools; that there would be 22 Peoria schools with police coverage and an increase in SLO salary.

The mayor said, “It’s the fact that we are trying to take care of our kids. Our first priority as a city is to take care of the residents. Safety and well being is our first priority.”

Peoria’s increased investment in school safety followed a communication from the first-year mayor in the city’s May 2023 newsletter, where he updated residents on his plan for keeping children safe. Beck wrote, “As Mayor, I believe the first priority of our city is to ensure that the kids, teachers and staff of the Peoria Unified School District not only feel safe, but are safe while in and around schools and associated facilities. Likewise, parents and loved ones should be able to have peace of mind that this is always the case. With this in mind, there should be nothing more important in our city’s budget than providing for the protection of our kids, teachers and staff while allowing them to have a great educational experience and positive work environment.”

Mayor Beck concluded his letter, stating, “No one should pit the skills, dedication, and good intentions of these wonderful public servants against one another. The choice is not between social workers, counselors, and law enforcement. We need an all-of-the above approach to show our children and community that we value safety and education for the happiness and prosperity of our community.”

The action to provide additional school safety personnel for Peoria schools comes on the heels of an earlier announcement from Mayor Beck on funding for the city’s police pension funding. In a Facebook post, Beck noted that the Peoria City Council had moved $6 million to the police pension funding, which was now 80% funded – compared to 48% funded in 2020.

Earlier this year, Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne and the Arizona Department of Education released the findings of a poll, which found that “81% of Arizona Public School parents support having a police officer” and “78% of Arizona Public School parents think that safety at schools is VERY IMPORTANT.”

Horne held an April press conference with Arizona legislators to address this issue. The group called on school boards “to support having an officer at every school and to apply for funding through an available school safety grant.”

After that press conference, Senator T.J. Shope added, “While we certainly see the value in school counselors as a component to safe and healthy schools, we believe SROs (school resource officers) are a necessity in this day and age where we’re witnessing increasing school shootings across the country. SROs can also help detour gang activity as they foster positive relationships with students.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

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