ELMA, N.Y. — Western New York Republican Pat Gallivan is calling on his colleagues in the state Senate to include funding in this year's budget so all schools across New York can afford school resource officers to prevent all types of violence.
"This is something I'd support anyway but now in light of the latest school shooting we saw down in Florida, I think it's very timely," Gallivan said.
Gallivan's idea expands on an initiative he supported in 2014, which allowed for some districts to add full-time officers in schools.
"We were able to secure about $1.9 million in the budget, but that was statewide and there are 700 schools and it was available to some schools statewide but not all of them. That money has been gone," he said.
The state senator said he's not sure exactly how much it will cost, but the program will be optional for schools. He does have an idea where the funding should come from.
"The governor has proposed spending an extra $700+ million for education. I would propose that the money come out of that. I'm not looking for additional money," Gallivan said. "I absolutely believe that they work as a deterrent. They can prevent crimes. They can prevent tragedies. They can head things off before they happen simply by being there and working with the kids and the teachers and ensuring that they're communicating on a regular basis."
Meanwhile, a proposal in Alabama would allow teachers to carry guns during school hours. Gallivan said he doesn't believe anyone who is properly licensed should be precluded from carrying a firearm, but in New York, it is already at the school's discretion. He said the law doesn't need to be changed.
"I'm not opposed to teachers being armed, but teachers are teachers and I don't know that we should put the additional responsibility on them for security,” said Gallivan. “But a trained law enforcement officer who's serving as a school resource officer can provide the security of a facility and can work to keep it safe in addition to all the other things they do.”
He said funding would not only incentivize the creation of new positions, but also allow some districts to convert part-time positions to full-time.