Parents fund armed officer at Scottsdale private school - FOX 13 News

Parents fund armed officer at Scottsdale private school

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -

An armed, off-duty police officer has been hired to patrol a Scottsdale school campus. But it's not the school paying for the officer, it's the parents.

Parents of El Dorado private school wanted the extra security following the Newtown massacre.

"We decided right off the bat that this was the best we could do to ensure the safety of our children especially after Newtown," says Principal Linda McDermott.

El Dorado is pre-k through 8th grade. The armed off-duty officer has been in place for about a month now. The principal says they haven't had much pushback from parents.

Part way through our interview, Scottsdale Police Officer Stacy Juarez paused to wave to some 2nd graders walking by. Juarez is one of the armed off-duty officers, hired by parents, to patrol El Dorado private school.

"What else are we protecting if we're not protecting our children first? I don't know," says Brian Bratspis, parent & co-chair of the safety committee.

About an hour after the Newtown school massacre, El Dorado parents formed a safety committee. In three weeks, the committee decided to hire an armed off-duty officer. They held parent meetings and the principal approved it.

"Parents, the ones that did show concern and attended the meeting, left the meeting feeling pretty confident we were making the right decision because it came down to the same question every time. How do you stop an armed gunman? I don't think anyone has that answer, but we don't ever want to get to that point so we are trying to get in front of the problem," says Bratspis.

Officers aren't just looking for school shooters, they listen to their police radio, monitoring all safety issues.

"It may involve a chemical spill or a swarm of bees flying around somewhere. We can look at that location in relation to ours and make the decision are we going to do a lockdown, a modified lockdown or just a situation that we're going to monitor," says Officer Stacy Juarez.

While one off-duty officer patrols the campus, it takes 8 to rotate through the week.

"It can run anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000 a month for this type of program," says Bratspis.

Parents aren't required to pay for this officer. They're just asked to donate right now. The school says they have enough money to pay for the officer until the end of the school year. Next year they'll reevaluate how to pay for the program.

"For many parents here, they were willing to write those checks and hopefully they will continue to do so going forward."

Officer Juarez' son also goes to school at El Dorado. He patrols the school one day a week. The off-duty officers also provide anti-drug and bullying programs.

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