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Stanton announces gun buyback, School Safety Officers

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton delivered his second State of the City speech Thursday. He announced new pushes for school safety and an effort to get guns off the street.

Stanton acknowledged the challenges Phoenix faces, but painted a largely optimistic picture of its future -- a future he hopes will include fewer guns.

Through a partnership with Arizonans For Gun Safety, Phoenix will hold a gun buyback program every Saturday in May, except Memorial Day weekend. An anonymous donor gave $100,000 to fund the buyback.

Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia said a program last year paid about a $100 per gun, meaning the May buyback could bring in a thousand weapons.

“I’ve seen one weapon tragically change the life of many individuals across the United States," Garcia said. "Any program that supports weapons off the streets, that saves our citizens and our officers, it’s a plus.”

During his speech, Stanton also announced the Phoenix School Safety program. In addition to School Resource Officers already in place, school districts will have the option of hiring School Safety Officers -- off-duty Phoenix cops who’ve gone through an abbreviated resource officer training.

Stanton also wants to boost reading levels for Phoenix kids and to overhaul job training programs. He said business leaders have told him they’re concerned about having enough skilled employees.

“This is going to be a hypercompetitive environment," Stanton said. "What we did in the past is not going to work in the future. Our competitors are different. It’s now a more global competitive economic environment, and so we gotta up our game.”

Stanton didn’t say whether he’ll support a repeal of Phoenix’s food tax, but that he hopes to have a decision in the near future that balances fiscal and safety needs with the burden it places on families.