The president of a national police chiefs' association said a National Rifle Association proposal to assign an armed officer to each school in the nation would unduly tax patrol resources for other law enforcement missions.
Craig Steckler, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and a California police chief, called a plan outlined Friday by NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre a "massive undertaking."
Steckler, who is chief of the Fremont Police Department, said the plan would cause the reassignment of one-seventh of the country's officers from patrol duties to school security roles.
"While the IACP has long supported the hiring and deployment of school resource officers, the simple reality is that after years of cutbacks, hiring freezes and layoffs, the ability to meet this demand is beyond the capabilities of many, if not most, law enforcement agencies," Steckler said in a statement.
There are now about 760,000 state and local law enforcement officers in the United States, according to Bureau of Justice statistics. There are also about 100,000 schools in the nation.
Steckler noted that if his department were required to staff each school in Fremont, he would lose half of his patrol officers to that role. He also called LaPierre's idea "a sad commentary" on the times.
"The idea that we are discussing having to put armed law enforcement officers in all of our nation's schools is a sad commentary on the state of affairs we currently confront," Steckler said. "Law enforcement officers represent the last line of defense in a process that should properly be focused on prevention, threat mitigation, and preparation."
Chief Steckler also said the IACP supports "an effective ban on military-style assault weapons, background checks on all gun purchasers, and a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines."