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New bill would require armed officers on California school campuses

Screenshot from live stream of a Feb. 20, 2024 press conference
Rep. Bill Essayli on YouTube
Rep. Bill Essayli at press conference last month

A new bill introduced by California Assembly member Bill Essayli would require school districts to have at least one armed law enforcement officer on every campus while students are present.

Most schools in California currently do not have armed law enforcement officers. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, less than 40 percent of high schools, 20 percent of middle schools and only 10 percent of elementary schools have sworn police officers, who typically carry firearms.

The current law allows districts to use resources that are allocated for security towards student support services and employee professional development instead.

Assembly Bill 3038 would remove those options and require school districts to hire, or contract, with at least one armed officer on each campus while students are present. If the bill becomes law, the state would be required to reimburse each district for its cost.

Supporters of the bill say it will help keep students safe and prevent school shootings. On the other hand, opponents, say that students of color are vulnerable to discrimination by law enforcement. And they say students need more mental health services.

The legislative education committee may vote on the bill as early as next week, according to the state website.

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