The School Resource Officer

by | Jan 3, 2024 | Gary's Blog

part of the team

The School Resource Officer

 

More than just another caring adult in your school.

Most of you already know my background.  Started as an eighth-grade science teacher.  Earned a master’s degree in educational leadership.  Took a part-time job as a police officer.  Became the district’s safety director.  Retired after thirty years. Started my own company. A story that is as old as time.

One of the best things about my job is working with School Resource Officers (SRO).  Most districts’ administration and Boards of Education understand the roles of the SRO:

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Teacher
Counselor
Law Enforcement Officer
I like to think of the SRO as one more caring adult in the school community.  We know students are less likely to make a serious mistake in their lives if they have a caring adult in their family, their home, their neighborhood, their church, or their school. With 20% of our children ages 10 through 24 thinking about suicide, our students need all the caring adults they can get in their lives.
Unfortunately, many people only view an SRO as a ‘hired gun.’  There to protect our students and staff on that worst day.  However, studies have shown that SROs are not a deterrent to school shootings.  Starting with Columbine, an SRO has been on duty at the school on the day of the event.  Although the SRO is not a deterrent, their presence may shorten the duration of the event.
So how can we increase the value of School Resource Officers in our school community?
Last month I had the pleasure to be an instructor for the Ohio School Resource Officers Association’s Advanced SRO Course.  This two-day training with SROs from across the State of Ohio covered a wide range of topics.  Although some of the officers who attended were still a little ‘wet behind the ears’ in their SRO role, many were seasoned veterans who knew how to build relationships with students and staff and were there because they wanted to do more.

 

 
 
Every year, all law enforcement officers receive legal updates as part of their Continuing Professional Training (CPT). The SROs were given training that went above what is needed by street officers and was geared towards school-based law enforcement, as well as FERPA training from legal experts. In the academy, the legal module is often the least favorite of the cadets.  You know a legal presentation is well received when the attendees’ evaluations stated they wished the presentation was longer.  The SROs learned the principles of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED).  Although SROs seldom talk to architects during the design phase of building a new school, they can use the information to enhance the Security and Vulnerability Assessments they conduct on the buildings in their school or district.

 

 

In Ohio, schools with grades 6-12 are required to have Threat Assessment Teams.  SROs will not be involved in all threat assessments, but they need to understand the process and know their roles and responsibilities when managing threats.  A city administrator spoke about the use of the Incident Command System and how the SRO can have a role in writing Emergency Operation Plans, developing exercises to test the plans, and working in Unified Command during an event.  One of my favorite sessions was on the recovery process for a school and a community after an event.  I have seen too many schools focus on only the response to an event and very little on how we overcome the trauma to restore a school and community.

There is little doubt in my mind that schools are underutilizing their School Resource Officers.  Part of that is because of the lack of understanding of how an SRO can serve a school and a district.  The other is today’s SRO faces more challenges in a post-COVID environment than ever before. Hats off to the Ohio School Resource Officers Association for providing training to their members to help them meet those challenges.

Get In Touch

 

Does your District understand the importance of an SRO?

 

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