Armed police in every school would cost TPS $3 million a year
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Saturday, December 22, 2012
12/22/12 at 7:15 AM
Related story: NRA calls for guards in all schools.
The National Rifle Association's call to place armed police officers in every school would cost Tulsa Public Schools around $3 million a year, TPS Campus Police Chief Gary Rudick said Friday.
"Wow," he said when told of the proposal. "Who's going to pay for that?"
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre suggested Friday that the federal government foot the bill for providing police officers in every school in the nation, but no one in a Congress that is already near fiscal breakdown spoke up as a champion of the idea.
The NRA offered no cost estimates of such a program, but the online magazine Slate put the cost at $5.5 billion a year based on the number of schools in the nation and the average police officer's salary. Slate's calculations did not include the cost of benefits, equipment or training.
With members of Congress scattering for the Christmas holiday, reaction was hard to come by Friday. Most of Oklahoma's seven members were traveling, but 5th District Congressman James Lankford said he doesn't think there is much enthusiasm for imposing security regulations on local schools.
"I would much rather develop those plans district by district than push it down from the federal government," he said by telephone.
Lankford said he thought there might be some support for grants and other incentives for schools to upgrade security.
Tulsa Public Schools received three such grants, worth $1.8 million, to help form its Police Department in 2007. Rudick said the grants mainly covered the cost of equipment, including cars.
Tricia Pemberton, a spokeswoman for state Superintendent Janet Barresi, said Barresi "supports Second Amendment rights" but prefers to let local school districts decide which security measures are most appropriate. Pemberton said Barresi also supports the formation of the Oklahoma Commission on School Security, which was announced by legislative leaders on Thursday.
Rudick said the Tulsa Public Schools Campus Police Department has 23 sworn officers. The school district also uses armed security guards, some of whom are district employees and some of whom are contractors.
Earlier this week, the Tulsa Police Department increased patrols in school neighborhoods following the Dec. 14 shooting of 20 children and six adults at a school in Connecticut.
Ruddick, though, said that on the whole, such events are not the biggest security problem for schools.
"Security is really risk management. What's the greatest risk to the most children? It's not an armed intruder.
"The day-to-day problem is not shooting," he said. "It's kids coming to school hungry. It's generational poverty and violence. It's bullying."
In that respect, Rudick said, school personnel who are able to connect with students are more effective than armed guards.
"I hope they're not asking to choose between armed police and teachers in the classroom," he said.
Original Print Headline: TPS cost could be $3 million a year
Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365
Tulsa Public Schools police officer Alvin McDonald talks on his radio to a security guard in the cafeteria at Booker T. Washington High School on Monday. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World