Armed SRO discussion continues - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Armed SRO discussion continues

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - The school resource officer program has been effective in the island's schools but with an ever increasing number of incidents involving violence on campus, the question of whether these individuals should be armed with guns has surfaced yet again.  

The School Resource Officer Program was intended to provide a safe learning environment in the island's schools.  "To be able to work with school staff provide them valuable resources and to foster positive relationships with our island's youth," said Judiciary of Guam's Safe and Drug Free Schools Project Manager Joleen Respicio.

Nine SROs are currently working at the island's high schools, Respicio says two are assigned to each school with the exception of Okkodo High that only has one. With more and more reports of violence breaking out at campuses, discussion on whether these SROs should be armed continues to be up for debate. "As law enforcement officers, the SROs are trained to carry their firearms and the intention of SROs is to be the immediate first responders on campus and whether to any and all incidents on campus whether it's an intruder, a student fight or a health emergency and so having an SRO on campus eliminates several minutes of response time when seconds count," she said.

The Guam Education Board has been opposed to any firearms on campus, something Respicio is hoping will change. "With the SRO not having their firearm, it certainly restricts their ability to be a first responder therefore the goal is to work with DOE to be able to further educate the public on the role of the SRO," she said.

The SROs presence is intended to help educators, staff and students feel safe and protected.  Respicio says the program on Guam is funded in partnership with the Department of Education through federal grants.  Additionally she notes that the National Association of SROs supports having armed SROs.

"Throughout the nation, majority of the SROs a combination of police officers primarily and law enforcement officers who basically carry their firearms just as part of their toolbelt so that is one of the difficult things, our Guam SROs are currently not carrying their firearms," she said.

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