Several school districts in Connecticut have placed armed police officers or security guards in their schools in response to a gunman killing 26 children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December — a move Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he supports.
However, the governor does not expect the state to provide any funding to help more districts hire officers or security on campus.
“I think it’s a local decision, so they have the right to make that decision,” Malloy told reporters Wednesday. “I hope that they spend their money wisely and what is most important is what goes on in the classroom.”
While school violence may be on the decline — in Connecticut and nationwide — the events at Sandy Hook have spurred district officials to take a second look at the security at their schools. School police officers or other security personnel stationed at schools and teachers are also able to carry a firearm on school property if granted permission by district officials. The state does not track which districts have armed staff at its schools
In a roundup of news stories around the state, the General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Research reports that several districts have approved plans to spend thousands of dollars on armed security following Sandy Hook. This week, Enfield became the latest district to add armed security at their schools.
“It certainly is a mini-trend, and I think understandably in light of what has happened in Connecticut,” Malloy said.
Malloy said additional state funding for school safety will be included in whatever package the legislature adopts in response to Sandy Hook, but that will be largely for improving the school’s infrastructure for things like securing entrances.
The state in previous years received $9 million from the federal government to fund 72 police officers in schools, but that funding in recent years has dried up. With the Obama administration proposing that Congress pay to place 1,000 officers in schools across the country, Malloy said he doesn’t foresee the state providing the funding for more officers.
“I think security at schools is a local issue and a local obligation,” said Malloy, who was the mayor of Stamford for 14 years before becoming governor. “We certainly would participate in any federal programs. For instance, if dollars were made available to the state… we would be interested in that.”
Around the country, almost one-third of schools already have armed security staff, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Connecticut is one of 18 states that allow some people to carry weapons on school grounds, reports the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a nonprofit based in San Fransico.
Read more on school safety in Connecticut here.