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Bill introduced to require California schools to have armed officers on campus

Bill introduced to require California schools to have armed officers on campus
Bill introduced to require California schools to have armed officers on campus 02:35

SACRAMENTO — A public safety package has been introduced into the California Legislature, and that package contains a bill that would require armed officers at every school in the state.

While school districts across the state have been opting out of having any officers on their campus altogether, a California Assembly member is introducing a bill that would put them back on school campuses and armed with a weapon – and it's causing major controversy.

"I don't think it'll make a huge difference if I'm being honest," said a Sacramento resident named Gabe. "I think people already feel safe if they're in the right environment."

Assembly Bill 3038 is one part of a 3-prong public safety package brought forth by Assemblyman Bill Essayli. The bill would require all k-12 California schools to have at least one armed officer on-site during school hours or when students are present on campus.

There's been some backlash, as the American Civil Liberties Union calls it bad public policy.

"Students of color and students with disabilities are especially vulnerable to discriminatory arrests when police have a presence in schools, and our schools should be a place of learning for youth where we prevent conflict through school counselors not through law enforcement," said Ana Mendoza, director of education equity with ACLU Southern California.

Proponents of the bill say police presence at schools can be a matter of life and death.

"California has experienced 96 school shootings between 2018 and 2023. If we want to get serious about school shootings and stopping them before they happen, we need good guys and girls with guns ready to act," Essayli said.

Sacramento City Unified School District has been without officers on campus since 2020, but some parents want them back and are backing this bill.

"Kids carry guns every day that we don't know about. It wouldn't hurt to have metal detectors as well," said one parent named Sue.

The ACLU says in many instances teens are being arrested for regular adolescent behavior.

"Schools should be nurturing centers where students can be themselves, can grow developmentally, and when you have law enforcement on campus, it stifles that healthy development that school staff can otherwise provide to students," Mendoza said.

A report from the ACLU in 2021 where they analyzed data from schools nationwide with law enforcement present during the 15-16 school year says a key finding was that schools are under-resourced and over-criminalized. They also found that nationally students with disabilities were nearly 3 times more likely to be arrested, in some states that number was closer to 10.

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