Pence approves Indiana school safety grants

Most school districts already have security officers in place, but paying for additional security is challenging.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence put his signature on the School Safety Bill designed to help public schools hire trained and armed school resource officers. But does the school safety legislation go far enough to benefit every school campus in the state?

The tragedy in Newtown spurred the state of Indiana to act when it comes to school security. Tuesday's bill signing by Gov. Pence underscored that point.

But the Indianapolis Public Schools district is not so sure this program will work for IPS. Steve Garner has served as the Chief of IPS police force for the last eleven years.

"A district would have to come up with $50,000 a year matching funds and then in two years they have to pick up all those funds," said Garner.

Eyewitness News asked Governor Pence during his Tuesday news conference if the matching funds could be a hindrance for schools.

"We will start with this and have an ongoing dialogue with the school corporation," said the governor. "There may be a need for additional resources going forward and we will take those questions as they come."

Ken Hull is the superintendent at Speedway.

"It gives us local control on how that program moves forward. Communities can decide what they do and don't want to do in the future," Hull said.

Superintendent Hull says Speedway already invested in a school resource officer with Speedway Police a year ago.

"We were collectively allocating $90,000 to this program. If we can expand that program we see nothing but success," he said.

The governor has set up a task force or safety working group that will continue to explore the issue of school safety throughout the year.

That will allow lawmakers to make changes in the legislation as they see fit.

About the school safety bill

The measure was originally sought by Attorney General Greg Zoeller and Republican Sen. Peter Miller of Avon in response to concerns about bullying and gang violence in schools. But it quickly morphed into a response to the December school shootings as well.

The bill advanced after the Republican-controlled House pulled earlier provisions that would've required all public schools to have gun-carrying employees during school hours. It also establishes a special committee to study school security issues and make recommendations by year's end.

See all bills Gov. Pence has signed into law.