Washington lawmakers are beginning to write the federal budget, and Indiana’s top lawyer wants to make sure they include more money for school resource officers.Once again, the Attorney General is encroaching upon the power of the Governor. Governor Mike Pence is the elected representative for the State of Indiana. The Attorney General represents the State of Indiana only in and pertaining to litigation. What right does Attorney General Zoeller have to represent the State of Indiana meeting with Congressman and arguing policy, i.e. for more federal spending for school resource officers?
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced last week he plans to work with the state’s congressional delegation in hopes of increasing the budget of a relatively-small U.S. Justice Department grant program for hiring police officers to work in schools.
On the state level, Indiana lawmakers have already authorized $20 million in matching grants to help schools hire resource officers; districts have already claimed more than $9 million of that money.
Attorney General Greg Zoeller
While some criminal justice advocates question the effectiveness of such a push, it aligns with a goal Obama administration officials spelled out last January: fund the hiring of 1,000 new school resource officers across the country.
The U.S. Justice Department currently spends $45 million on a national grant program for hiring school resource officers. Only one Indiana community received a grant from that program last year.
The irony is that the minute any state official thinks of dipping his or her toe into litigation matters, Attorney General Zoeller is quick to point out that he is the elected attorney for the state and even asserts the baseless position that he also gets to act as the client in such litigation. Yet Zoeller doesn't hesitate to go out of his area and claim to represent the State in pushing certain policies at the state and national level, directly encroaching upon the power of the Governor.
Maybe pushing for more federal money for school resource officers is a good idea, but it is Governor Pence's call, not Attorney General Zoeller's.
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