Carroll Police Chief Jeff Cayler
Carroll Police Chief Jeff Cayler
Carroll Police Chief Jeff Cayler estimates a $750,000 to $1 million cost to add the eight to 11 officers he believes would be necessary to provide armed police protection for all K-12 school buildings in the city, public and private — if such a proposal graduates from the idea stage to action.
With no federal or state money, no cuts elsewhere in the city budget and state authorization to levy for more general-fund dollars, city finance officials say a home with an assessed value of $100,000 in Carroll would see the city portion of its property tax bill rise about $130 annually to play for the full police staffing at schools for the regular day and during activities.
The council could halt public-works projects being funded through the local-option sales tax and use 75 percent of the expected $1.2 million in annual revenues to pay for more police (25 percent of local-option monies must go to property tax relief by law). Other funding options are possible but city officials have not developed them as no elected officials have called for such plans locally.
Cayler didn’t endorse or criticize the National Rifle Association’s proposal to position armed guards in schools as a means to prevent school shootings like the one earlier this month in Newtown, Conn.
“Clearly an armed presence may have some deterrent value,” Cayler said.
NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said in a news conference on Friday that gun-free school zones serve as something of an invitation to “every insane killer in America.”
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre said.
Jason Glass, director of the of the Iowa Department of Education, said the idea of armed guards in schools is worth considering. Like Cayler, Glass wouldn’t sketch out more than a rough estimate, but he said that if each guard cost $60,000 (salary and benefits) it would cost $86 million to station one at all of Iowa’s 1,434 buildings, The Des Moines Register reported.
Federal and state officials are already discussing strategies aimed at protecting schools. President Barack Obama has asked a task force for a recommendation by January. A mix of state and federal monies is possible. But if that process or stalls or falls short, Carroll could move on its own by deploying police officers to schools.
Cayler used a $70,000 figure as an estimate for the cost of a new officer. The department also would need to increase the vehicles in its fleet, provide training and firearms and other equipment. The department has 13 sworn officers, down from the 15 Cayler says is the normal staffing level.
In recent months, prior to the massacre at Sandy Hook, Cayler said his department had been doing extra patrols at a large business in Carroll following the termination of an employee there.
“There were some concerns and whatever,” Cayler, adding that no threats of violence were involved.
As part of the expanded patrols, the department discussed doing more regular interaction at the schools.
Glass has said any guards with guns in schools should be trained police officers. Some lawmakers and gun advocates have suggesting arming administrators and teachers, an idea Glass and Cayler dismissed.
Cayler said it is “more reasonable” to use police who are highly trained. He bristles at the notion of regular citizens with guns in school and theater mass shooting settings.
“You’re going to want somebody there who has some composure, some training,” Cayler said.
Cayler suggested that retired police officers may fit the bill. Another option would be to hire fewer officers and have them make random patrols in the schools without a full-time presence — a solution that would fall well short of the NRA’s suggestion. Additionally, Cayler said that police guards could function in a variety of capacities in the schools, serving as resource officers who are involved with improving the life of students in a host of ways.
Glass told The Register that he will not propose armed guards for schools, and neither will Gov. Terry Branstad, but that a state lawmaker may.