Vermont Reviews Use of Armed School Officers

Published: 4/4/2018 11:50:29 PM
Modified: 4/4/2018 11:50:36 PM

Montpelier — Vermont lawmakers are turning their attention to school safety measures following the approval of a package of gun ownership restrictions that was passed in the aftermath of what officials called a near-miss school shooting in Fair Haven earlier this year.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is reviewing a proposal to allow retired police officers to work as armed school resource officers.

Committee Chairman Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, Vt., says the plan especially could benefit rural schools where police are often far away.

“I think it’s vital that we take every step that we can to protect our students,” Sears said.

However Amy Fowler, deputy secretary of the state Agency of Education, said national studies have found schools with resource officers suspend and expel minority and low-income students at higher rates. She said she thinks school resource officers need more police training.

“Adolescent development might be something that would be useful to them, conflict mediation, some training in restorative practices,” Fowler said.

The House has approved $5 million in funding as part of the capital budget to help improve school security. The measure requires Senate approval. Prosecutors also are requesting that lawmakers upgrade to a felony the misdemeanor of making a school threat.

The school safety proposals come in the aftermath of the Legislature’s passage of a package of gun restrictions that includes raising the legal age for gun purchases, expanding background checks for private gun sales and banning high-capacity magazines and rapid-fire devices known as bump stocks.

The Legislature was prompted to act after a teenager was charged with planning a shooting at the Fair Haven Union High School.

Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784


© 2021 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy