Why do we see school shootings? Because there are lots of kids that go to school and they spend a hell of a lot of time there. To put things into more perspective...according to the educational researcher a school can expect to have a student homicide once every 6,000 years. Also, violent crimes have been steadily dropping since 1990.
Now, I'm not proposing that we do nothing in response to these horrific incidents, but I just thought I'd share some stuff with everyone. I understand the reasoning behind putting a cop in every school...but if it costs a state lets say 100 million dollars a year to put an officer in every school to (hopefully) prevent that one school shooting that happens (maybe) every three decades...is that really worth it? I know I know...you can't put a price on somebody's life...but we have to. Everything has a cost. If we spend billions of dollars to prevent every kind of situation that runs a similar risk to losing your life in a school shooting (which is so low it's practically zero)...well we would go broke. That's all we would ever spend our money on. I don't say this to sound harsh, but simply to put things in perspective. Our kids are more likely to die on the way home from school or at home than at school.
We're upset because we've been hearing about a horrific incident involving the deaths of kindergarten children. It's sad. It's sick. But we need to not let emotions get in the way of thinking logically. Our emotions from 9/11 led us to the patriot act and TSA. Lets not make another mistake.
I'm going to go through a few of these points. Direct cost and indirect cost.
Putting a policeman in a school is a costly endeavor if it's only duty is to prevent the NEXT Sandy Hook. Fortunately, there's far more that an on-duty police officer can do as a liaison, teacher, general security and authority figure. My high school got a police officer (unarmed) prior to Columbine and began being armed afterwards. He broke up fights, and probably prevented far more, watched kids who try to sneak off campus and get high during school hours, answered questions and was a part of the school. Whether he prevented a Columbine I don't know, but it was certainly a positive presence.
The TSA has an even larger impact. After 9/11 flying wasn't exactly popular. For those of us who had to fly frequently it was an uneasy time. Now, I have complete confidence that a bomb isn't going to go off or some guy didn't bring a box cutter onto the plane. I'm back to being afraid of mechanical problems instead of terrorism.
When people are scared to fly, they don't. And that halts this country.
I completely agree with you about the benefits an on-duty officer can bring to a school. Granted, he's not going to be the most popular guy there, but what he brings to a school is far more than just preventing massacres.
I don't think it's cost effective to have a cop at every school, though. I grew up in Wenatchee and that (relatively) small town has about 11 public schools (K-12). With an average income (before benefits and bonuses) of around $50,000, the city is then paying out a MINIMUM of $550,000/year to have 11 different officers at 11 different schools. These officers are going to be getting paid to hang out at schools for 8 hours a day, roughly 8.5 months out of the year...
I don't think arming teachers is even in the ballpark for answers, but I don't know if taking 8 hours out of officers' days is the best idea ever.
My point to this post is, I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE BEST IDEA IS.
If we were to put one officer in every public school at that cost we'd be looking at ~$5B in costs nationwide. That's a cost of ~$78 per student and an additional 100,000 jobs. And considering a police officer at a school can do far more than just protect against mass violence (be a liaison, develop relationships with children, show kids they are the good guys), that's a 5B worth spending.
Or, we could put a costly training program together and have people who's main job is to be a teacher carry a gun all day at school.