The cost of only 1 armed guard at every school in the US: $Ten Billion

So, how much would it cost to put one (only 1) armed guard at every US school?

The answer involves two numbers:

How many schools are there in the US?

How much does it cost to employ a police officer (salary plus all the costs involved in the officer’s routine work)?

Assumption: I assume we are talking about police officers, right?  Or would someone advocate someone with less training and expertise guarding our schools?  I cannot imagine that scenario, so let’s assume a sworn police officer is what we are talking about.

So, how many schools are there in the US?  An article in the Atlantic today, citing National Center for Education Statistics says

“there are about 99,000 public schools in the country”

True, but the same study says that there are also over 33,000 private schools, plus nearly 7,000 Postsecondary Title IV institutions.  Their exact total of all three kinds of schools is 138,925.    I’m sure no one advocates protecting only some but not all of our students, letting all the others remain unprotected, right?

The Atlantic article, citing a NT Times article, claims, concerning these public schools,

” about a third already have armed guards.”

The Times article calls the people guarding about a third of our schools “armed security staff” without specifying their level of training, qualification or accountability.

But let’s assume that there are already sworn police officers at 1/3 of the 138,925 schools.  That leaves 91,690 schools still in need of officers, in order to place one single officer at each school.

So how much does an officer cost?  The Atlantic claims:

“It wouldn’t be that expensive. Here’s some simple math. The median salary for police officers is $55,010…”

Well, salary is a good place to start, but to put an officer in the field, it costs a lot more than a salary.  In fact, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, it costs taxpayers $116,500 per sworn officer on average (as of 2007).

The Atlantic concludes:

 “Putting police in the remaining schools works out to an annual cost of about $3.6 billion, which is really more like $4 billion or so when you factor in benefits as well. That’s not even a rounding error when it comes to the federal budget. It’s even smaller than the foreign aid budget … “

[did you notice how the previously mentioned  “armed guards” in one third of the public schools are now labeled “police” without any cost adjustments?]

Oh?  If you multiply 91,690 as yet un-guarded schools times  $116,500 per sworn officer, you get  $10,681,885,000.00  That’s over 10 Billion dollars, per year, for only a single officer at each school.  Now, of course one at each school is not going to do it.  Should we double this?  Triple it?  What if a gang of heavily armed people attack a school?  Will we then need a whole squad of armed guards to meet force with comparable force?   How much would that cost?

For all of that money, perhaps we could afford a bit of mental health care that would actually address an enormous unmet need in our country.

But let’s say the plan works.  We meet force with force.  So now, instead of shootings at schools, we have shoot-outs at schools.

.

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