Boosting resource officers will help curb school violence
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As violence in and around our country’s schools increases, lawmakers are often pressed to enact measures such as semi-automatic weapons bans, magazine restrictions, and other policies that would punish law-abiding gun owners. This misguided approach completely ignores solutions that would prevent all forms of violence in the classroom.

Unfortunately, the statistics behind this issue are heading in the wrong direction. There were 3,380 violent threats in K-12 schools during the 2017-18 school year and a 113 percent increase in actual incidents. School bullying has increased 5 percent between 2016-18 and one-third of students have reported being bullied from K-12th grade.

Instead of letting these problems fester, Congress must find proactive solutions that prevent and deter violence in learning environments. While there are thousands of School Resource Officers (SROs) employed across the nation, only 42 percent of public schools have an SRO present at least one day a week. In order to boost the number of full-time resource officers, I introduced the National Education Security Training (NEST) Act along with Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Dybul interview; Boris Johnson update Schumer names coronavirus czar candidates in plea to White House The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Guidance on masks is coming MORE (R-N.C.). This bill provides a tax credit of up to $1,500 per year for veterans and former law enforcement officers who volunteer to protect schools. This will create a clear financial incentive for veterans and retired cops to serve as SROs at a state or local agency.

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SROs have historically played critical roles in preventing and stopping school violence through quick thinking and grit. For example, last year an SRO at a middle school in Lilburn, Ga., disarmed a student and prevented a knife attack. Officer Nicolette McLeod-Pinnock responded to the incident within a matter of minutes, swiftly disarmed the 13-year old assailant, and took them into custody. She potentially saved countless lives. For her courageous actions, McLeod-Pinnock was awarded the Officer of the Year Award for Valor from the Georgia Peace Officers Association.

A few months after the Parkland tragedy, a 19-year-old attempted to shoot students at Forest High School in Ocala, Fla. Thankfully, Deputy Jim Long, an SRO, sprang into action after hearing a loud noise. Within three minutes, Deputy Long confronted and stopped the perpetrator.

These cases, along with others from across the country, speak volumes about the benefits of having an armed and trained individual at a school should a violent act be attempted. While we cannot predict what type of violence may happen at schools, there is no reason why we cannot take proactive steps to add additional layers of security to the buildings where our students learn and grow.

There is no question that veterans and retired law enforcement officers in my district and across our country would benefit from this bill. Like many Americans, I’m grateful for their service. When these folks retire, I know some of them are itching to continue serving in a different capacity. My bill would offer them the financial boost to do just that by helping to secure our nation’s places of learning.

At the end of the day, we can all agree that our children should be able to attend school without having to fear for their safety. As a father of three children, I understand the necessity of making sure our kids always come home safe, and I strongly believe this bill will help do just that.

Ted BuddTheodore (Ted) Paul BuddThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Dybul interview; Boris Johnson update Top conservatives pen letter to Trump with concerns on fourth coronavirus relief bill Boosting resource officers will help curb school violence MORE is a member of Congress representing North Carolina’s 13th District.