"If there's one thing I could do to make schools safer, it would be to have a School Resource Officer in every school," said SLED Chief Mark Keel.
Keel was speaking before the Senate Education Committee, who held a hearing tonight on the issue of school safety in the wake of the Newtown massacre.
Keel was one of several officials who spoke to the committee, among them were State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais.
Both Keel and Zais said that decisions with respect to funding and deployment should be made locally.
On the question of having teachers armed, Keel said, "I don't know of a single law enforcement officer in favor of teachers carrying guns."
Would you be willing to pay more taxes if it meant more School Resource Officers in your town's schools?
As the chief law enforcement officer in the state, Keel said that school safety is the number one issue he's been hearing about of late. It resonates with him personally. "I drop my kids off at school every day and I want to know that I'm going to pick them up. There's no cost that's too much for me to want to make sure that happens."
Keel said steps can be taken in the short term to make schools safer, such as installing panic buttons or allowing doors to be locked only from the inside. Over the longer term, he thinks that, in the design phase, school safety needs to be a paramount concern when new buildings are being considered.
"We don't want our schools to look like prisons, but there are some things that can be done in terms of exits and entrances that can make schools safer," Keel said.
During his testimony, Keel said he believes every school should have a safety and security plan in place. He also said that he believes dealing with school safety is the number one issue facing the General Assembly this session.