Some Illinois lawmakers want to give extra money to schools that replace armed security officers with unarmed social workers and behavior therapists.

Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, a Hillside Democrat, said he proposed the plan after hearing from advocates who argue that investing in mental health resources is the best way of treating the epidemic of violence.

His plan, which is backed by 16 other Democrats in the House, would allow schools to apply to an optional grant if they promise to reallocate funding for school-based law enforcement to mental health services, including social workers or other practices “designed to promote school safety and healthy environments.”

The measure could be a tough sell, especially amid a widespread effort to employ more of what’s known as school resource officers — fully armed law enforcement officers often paid for by schools, the Associated Press reports.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions proposed a school safety plan in March that included a measure prioritizing grants to states that agree to use the money to put more law enforcement in schools.

 

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