Most rural New Mexico school districts do not have resource officers

It could take up to 45 minutes for police to reach some rural New Mexico schools. Most of them do not have school assistants and some do not have confidence in their local police station’s plan to respond to an active shooter. Recently, the Hearst Investigative Unit asked every public school district in New Mexico and all 50 states what steps they are taking to keep their children safe. The results in New Mexico were striking. Of the 17 school administrators who answered the questionnaire, nine said they have no school resource officers or police officers walking the halls, and all of these schools were located in rural areas of the state. Nationwide, about 66 percent of schools have them. “Each district thinks they’re doing the best we can,” said Estancia Schools Superintendent Cindy Sims, “and we don’t find out it wasn’t enough until it’s too late.” Three school districts, the who answered the questionnaire said they had no confidence in their local law enforcement’s active shootout plan. “We can’t afford an SRO,” said Tularosa Superintendent Todd Lindsay. “We can’t always afford this police presence on our campus.” Lindsay was one of the administrators who said they had no confidence in his local police department’s active operational plan. “Police response could take a while if something happened to happen,” Lindsay said. “You know, in the village of Tularosa, there are only two or three police officers, and they’re scattered all over town.” Karen Sanchez-Griego, superintendent at the Cuban school, hired a private security firm to act as school resource officers after the students those who did so threatened to get guns and shoot certain people. “We are literally an hour and a half from the local police,” Sanchez Griego said. “We said we can’t, we can’t even play around. That’s not funny. So not that it would ever be like that. But we said we need to look for local people who can help us, or people in New Mexico. The company employs other retired officers to provide armed security to homes and businesses. Three officers cost the school board $98,000 a month. They enforce school rules, train staff and make recommendations for securing buildings, and they will also confront anyone who comes into a school wanting to cause harm. “There’s certainly a lack of security for what people want to protect their children with,” Jones said. “Every school should definitely have some kind of law enforcement or armed security presence. Absolutely.”

It could take up to 45 minutes for police to reach some rural New Mexico schools. Most of them do not have school assistants and some do not have confidence in their local police station’s plan to respond to an active shooter.

Recently, the Hearst Investigative Unit asked every public school district in New Mexico and all 50 states what steps they are currently taking to keep children safe.

The results in New Mexico were glaring. Of the 17 school administrators who answered the questionnaire, nine said they have no school resource officers or police officers walking the halls, and all of these schools were located in rural areas of the state. Nationwide, about 66 percent of schools have them.

“Every district thinks they’re doing their best,” said Estancia Schools superintendent Cindy Sims, “and we don’t find out it wasn’t enough until it’s too late.”

Three school districts that responded to the questionnaire said they had no confidence in their local law enforcement agencies’ active shootout plan.

“We can’t afford an SRO,” said Tularosa Superintendent Todd Lindsay. “We can’t always afford this police presence on our campus.”

Lindsay was one of the administrators who said they had no confidence in his local police department’s active shooter response plan.

“Police response could take a while if anything were to happen,” Lindsay said. “You know, in the village of Tularosa there are only two or three police officers and they are scattered all over town.”

Karen Sanchez-Griego, superintendent of Cuban schools, hired a private security firm to act as the school’s resource officer after students threatened to get guns and shoot certain individuals.

“We are literally an hour and a half from the local police,” Sanchez Griego said. “We said we can’t, we can’t even play around. That’s not funny. So not that it ever would be. But we said we need to look for local people who can help us, or people in New Mexico.”

Sanchez hired the International Protection Service. It’s a company founded by retired police officer Aaron Jones more than a decade ago. The company employs other retired officers to provide armed security for homes and businesses.

It costs the school board $98,000 a month for three officers. They enforce school rules, train staff and make recommendations for securing buildings, and also confront anyone who enters a school and seeks to cause harm.

“There’s certainly a lack of security for what people want to protect their children with,” Jones said. “Every school should definitely have some kind of law enforcement presence or armed security.

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