Spokane school resource officers could be armed by spring

SPOKANE, Wash. - arming resource officers vo

A new year was supposed to bring a bold, new security plan involving arming resource officers in Spokane Public Schools, but making that plan a reality has hit some setbacks.

Shortly after the deadly Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut, the Spokane school board approved a plan to arm the district's 14 resource officers, but the timeline to arm them has been pushed back and the district now admits it was initially "overly optimistic" in its plan to arm officers by January.

Making the plan a reality requires a number of moving parts and there are still details and agreements the district needs to figure out.

The plan called for 14 resource officers to be armed at several schools to help protect the nearly 29,000 students in the Spokane school district. The plan to arm the school's resource officers was approved but the implementation of the plan is taking time.

Jenny Rose, the president of the local teacher's union, is working with the district to hammer out a bargaining agreement.

"Of course the big issue is the money, salary, if you are asking an employee now to carry a gun there is a risk with that and I believe the salary needs to be increased," Rose said.

Resource officers with the district make anywhere from $48,000 to $59,000 a year, but money isn't the only question up in the air.

"Would the guns be kept in schools? Would the guns be kept at home?" Rose asked.

Another reason for the holdup is a member of the district's bargaining team is on maternity leave.

"When the key players aren't available that slows things down," Kevin Morrison with Spokane Public Schools said.

Morrison added training also needs to happen. Currently, 12 of the 14 resource officers have gone through the necessary training to carry a weapon.

"They go to the Spokane Police Academy and get the same training that the Spokane Police Department does," Morrison explained.

Morrison said the arming of resource officers could happen within a few months.

"By spring break, April, a rollout for sure to be happening for sure at some level," he said.

The five high school resource officers will likely be armed first and then by next school year all 14 officers will carry a firearm.

The district and the collective bargaining unit are expected to meet again in February.