RELEASE: Schmidt pledges to implement school and public safety plan in first 100 days in office
TOPEKA – (September 20, 2022) – Flanked by Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter and Kansas Fraternal Order of Police President Casey Slaughter, Kansas Attorney General and Republican Nominee for Governor Derek Schmidt pledged to implement his public safety plan within the first 100 days in office.
“Having a well-trained and well-connected and well-trusted law enforcement officer in schools is a critical step to making sure that our kids stay safe in that moment of need,” Schmidt said. “The new school year has begun and it’s past time for action. The governor has been silent on this issue, we’ve offered leadership, and as governor next year I will call on the Legislature to enact all of these recommendations in their initial session.”
Earlier this year, a school resource officer at Olathe East High School saved lives when he intervened and stopped a shooter. The officer was shot, but not a single life was lost. Instead of standing up for School Resource Officers, Kelly has empowered her hand-picked commission on race equity to push for “alternatives” to school resource officers.
“The SRO program is a fantastic program that broke down a lot of barriers between kids and officers, plus there is that extra added layer of security there,” Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter said. “Over time that’s eroded in budgets and now we see in at least this area where there’s a disconnect between the middle schoolers and law enforcement just because there is nobody in those schools. We’re seeing a lot more violent crime and I think there’s a correlation.”
The commission also recommended that if schools decide to keep SROs, they should implement controversial “restorative justice” or “anti-racism” training programs. Kelly said there is “systemic racism” in Kansas police that “must end” when announcing the creation of her commission.
Kelly also cut Safe & Secure School grant funding after it was approved by the Legislature last year. This year, no funds were available to schools because Kelly’s Department of Education ruled federal coronavirus funds could not be used for the grants. Kelly has never requested funds in her budget proposals for this school-safety program initiated by the Legislature.
“Governor Kelly unfortunately has been a huge disappointment to us,” Kansas Fraternal Order of Police President Casey Slaughter said. “In the four years she’s been in office we’ve had zero communication with our 4,300 members at the Kansas State Lodge. Derek Schmidt has communicated extremely well with us. He listens very closely to us. We are on board with his plan.”
In June when Schmidt outlined his public safety plan, Kelly responded by supporting the gun control bill pushed by the U.S. Congress at the federal level. Kelly has yet to outline what, if any, plan she has to improve public safety or school safety in Kansas at the state level.
Schmidt’s plan features six specific measures:
- Double funding for the Safe & Secure Schools grant program;
- Hire, train and retain more School Resource Officers (SROs);
- Provide more mental-health professionals for schools by continuing to expand the Mental Health Intervention Team (MHIT) program until it is available to all school districts;
- Seek authority to use existing federal coronavirus funds for school-safety needs;
- Promote awareness in schools and among students of how and when to file Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) about potential school threats;
- Enact the Reduce Armed Violence Act.
“Anything we can do to protect students within the state of Kansas and also build those relationships that need to be built with youth I’m all for,” Easter said. “The attorney general’s plan is a great plan and I fully support it.”