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School safety task force brainstorms solutions to recruit school resource officers | #schoolsaftey

Bridget Dowd/KJZZ

Members of the Arizona Department of Education’s school safety task force meet in Phoenix on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023.

A task force created by the Arizona Department of Education is looking for creative ways to recruit school resource officers.

When the department’s school safety task force met for the first time last month, one of the biggest problems identified was having enough funding, but not enough personnel to put police officers in the schools that want them.

Mike Kurtenbach is a former officer who now heads the department’s school safety efforts. During a committee meeting Wednesday, he said part of the issue is that all officers go through a general academy and most end up on patrol for years before they’re able to fill specialized positions like SROs. Which begs the question:

“Would there be an appetite to create, for lack of a better term, for discussion here, an ADE Police Department? It would have to be statewide — all 15 counties,” he said. “Right now, police departments don’t offer that pathway. You go to the academy to be a generalist, for lack of a better term and you’re going to get plugged in where you get plugged in.”

A model like that is already in place in L.A., which has its own department just for school resource officers.

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