Lawmakers add more money for school resource officers after Oxford shooting

Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan House of Representatives has approved spending aimed at drawing people into the public safety field, including a last-minute multimillion addition for support of school resources officers that was suggested in the wake of the Oxford High School shooting.

A $368 million supplement spending package made up of one-time federal COVID-19 relief funds and state funds that have not yet been appropriated passed 97-3 Thursday afternoon.

The bill, House Bill 5522, puts $57 million toward recruiting and retaining professional in law enforcement, fire departments and emergency medical agencies. It also provides money to provide updated equipment for those types of agencies. Another $7.5 million would go to mental health services for responders serving on the front lines of public safety.

There were a number of amendments that were not adopted, but in a remarkably emotional plea, one lawmaker’s amendment to increase the price tag of the bill by $40 million was agreed to.

“As most of us know, we in the Legislature have been providing funding for school resource officers since about 2018 in varying levels,” Rep. Gary Howell, R-North Branch, said on the House floor. “These officers, our sheriff’s deputies or other police officers who are in the schools, not only to provide physical protection, but also to build relationships with students and get a better handle on what may be going on in the school that needs to be known about.

“My amendment is very simple: We were proposing $10 million as this year’s grant amount. I am proposing we increase that to $50 million. A fairly dramatic increase, but this week has brought the value of school resource officers into stark reality. They are first line of defense against school shootings.

“The bravery and quick action of the school resource officer at Oxford High School saved lives. Within minutes, he got to the perpetrator, who was still had bullets in his magazine, disarmed him and neutralized It. God only knows how many more would have died without the action of that school resource officer.

“As many of you know, my son is a teacher at Oxford High School. I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude for the actions of the school resource officer that protected John and his students.”

The spending package now heads to the state Senate.

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