by Anna Manning
John Locke Foundation’s Mitch Kokai writes for Carolina Journal‘s Daily Journal on the continued debate over school safety:
The top page-one headline trumpeted the news: “Report: Armed police officer needed at every N.C. school.”
But what struck two of the state capital’s leading mainstream media outlets as especially newsworthy ended up conspicuously absent from another source. The official Feb. 7 news release about final recommendations from Gov. Roy Cooper’s school safety committee said nothing about adding resource officers to every N.C. public school.
Not once in the 800-word release did Cooper’s press office mention the recommendation that “North Carolina needs to be proactive and provide money to have an armed police officer at every school in the state,” as the N&O reported in its opening paragraph.
“All the schools should have a police officer in them to protect the kids from harm,” Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger told the newspaper. Cloninger co-chaired Cooper’s committee.
The governor’s release did not convey the sheriff’s sentiment. Nor did Cooper’s press operation mention that “among the recommendations was funding for school resource officers at every school statewide — or at least at every middle school and high school, with three or four elementary schools sharing the services of one officer,” as WRAL reported.
Why the disparity in emphasis between the news reports and the official account from the governor’s office? The N&O story offers a possible clue.
“The recommendation to increase the number of school resource officers could draw questions from groups who argue that there should be less police and not more in schools,” reporter Keung Hui suggests.
Among the groups actively protesting police in schools: left-of-center political activists who spend much of their time criticizing the Republican-led General Assembly. Hui quotes one of them. “‘Research has not shown that having a school resource officer in every school prevents shootings or makes schools safer,’ said Peggy Nicholson, director of the Youth Justice Project of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. ‘But research does show it sends more kids into the court system, especially black and brown children.’”
The N&O turns to Nicholson again after citing an October poll that found 84 percent of North Carolinians believe “hiring more school resource officers will be very effective or somewhat effective in stopping school shootings.”
Read more here.