Despite Philadelphia Mayor John Street’s view that posting armed police officers at some high schools is a recipe for tragedy, many big-city districts and local schools have done so for years with little community uproar, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Police patrol schools in large cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York; in smaller city districts that have faced violence, such as Camden, N.J. and Chester, Pa.; and even suburban schools such as Phoenixville High in Chester County. Many of these schools posted police in 1999 after federal funding became available following major school shootings such as Columbine, Co.
In most places, the police at schools are referred to as “school resource officers” because they do more than enforce the law. They teach safety lessons and counsel and mentor students. Some wear uniforms. Some don’t. “It’s a great program. The gun is minimized by the overall positive benefits of having a school resource officer, not as a law enforcer but as an overall friend for the students,” said Lou Martin, assistant principal of Abington Senior High. Since 1999, Pennsylvania has received $14.5 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Justice for police in schools. New Jersey was awarded $39.8 million.