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Pence signs school resource officers bill

INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence on Tuesday signed into law a bill providing state dollars to schools that want to hire school resource officers.

“In combination with our administration’s school safety working group, the legislation I sign today will provide new resources to make our schools safer so our teachers can focus on education and our kids can simply be kids,” he said.

Senate Bill 1 sets up matching grants for schools interested in hiring school resources officers, who are generally law enforcement workers assigned to districts or schools on a voluntary basis by schools.

The budget has $20 million in funds for the grants.

Pence also said separately that he has identified a few bills he will veto in the next few days, though he wouldn’t identify them. All of the remaining bills must be acted on by Saturday.

Pence was surrounded in his office Tuesday by children from a private school that isn’t eligible for the grants, as well as a few students from a local public charter school that is eligible.

The legislation also now allows people to possess a firearm on property that is being used by a school for a school function. Previously it was a felony.

This provision likely would affect off-campus sporting events and proms.

Sen. Pete Miller, R-Avon – author of the bill – was not aware of the change in law and said it might be something for a study group on school safety to consider this summer.

“That might, in terms of the spectrum, move it too far the other way,” he said.

The bill took a curious route through the legislative process – at one time requiring schools to arm personnel in every school building. That provision was removed for further study.

“It was a winding road,” Miller said. “I think the law we ended up with is a good thing – a positive step forward.”