As The School Year Begins, More Policymakers Talk School Safety, Shooter Response

Aug 12, 2019

Days after a student with a gun was arrested outside a Muncie high school, Gov. Eric Holcomb held an event highlighting two school safety bills in Southern Indiana Friday, but Democrats in the General Assembly are calling for more action on school safety and firearms during the next legislative session. 

The two bills lawmakers passed this year qualify more schools for the state’s secured school grants, and expand how schools can use the money, like for hiring school safety officers, and connecting families with behavioral treatment for at-risk students. 

The application window for those recently closed, and state officials say more schools showed interest in that funding than last year, well before applications were open.

But House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) says every school – not just schools that can attain matching grants from the state – needs resource officers and services focused on mental health.

“Where students that have a social or emotional problem can get the help that they need,” he says. 

GiaQuinta says school resource officers can build positive relationships to help with those efforts, and know more about what’s happening among students.

“And obviously the resource officers will also be on the lookout and also be trained to look for certain things,” he says. “So I do believe that we should have school resource officers in every school.”

GiaQuinta and several other lawmakers have praised the school-based officer involved in the recent arrest of the armed student outside of a Muncie high school. They say the response likely prevented another school shooting. 

And many other Democrats in the wake of mass shootings across the country have urged the governor and the rest of the General Assembly to move toward requiring background checks on all gun sales.