On Wednesday, the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) unveiled a new program using off-duty cops to supplement the shortage of safety officers on campus.
Under this new program, ADE filled its school resource officer (SRO) force from 190 to 301 positions — despite the statewide officer shortage. Superintendent Horne said in Wednesday’s press conference announcing the new program that an increase to SROs was one of his main priorities.
Horne said that the state’s police officer shortage initially posed a problem to the SRO increase. That meant that the fully-funded SRO positions had no officers to fill them. To work around this issue, Horne explained that the ADE contracted with Off Duty Management (ODM), which enables law enforcement to pick up off-duty shifts.
Horne credited Mike Kurtenbach, head of ADE’s school safety division and former Phoenix Police Department assistant chief, for the idea. Horne noted that their arrangement with ODM ensures full coverage at schools.