At the NASCPC, we strongly advocate for carefully selected, specifically trained, and properly equipped school resource or school police officers. We believe they are an essential part of school safety. As some parts of the country grapple with an anti-law enforcement movement, we feel its important to highlight the positive impacts that dedicated school policing can have at your school.
We all have the same goal – to create a safe learning environment for ALL students in ALL schools across the United States, and school policing is at the frontline in this effort. School Police and SRO's are so much more than just a police officer. Their role in the school system is something more. They oftentimes take on a mentor/informal counselor role which allows them to impact the school safety ecosystem in profound ways. School Police and SRO's don't seek to arrest children, they ultimately seek to help students resolve issues in order to AVOID that child entering the legal system.
"[School Police and] SRO's maintain 'open-door' policies towards students, engage in informal counseling sessions, and refer students to social-services, legal-aid, community-services, and public-health agencies as part of their role as an informal counselor and mentor. Students come to understand that someone cares and will listen, and [School Police and] SROs come to understand where students' concerns lie and what might be threatening their safety."
To Protect & Educate, NASRO
A School Police Officer or SRO is also going to evaluate risk much differently than say a school administrator. An escalating situation can be identified in a more expeditious manner and be resolved long before the situation escalates to something more dangerous. As a trusted adult, students have yet another resource to approach when issues arise.
When a School Police Officer or SRO is included in the overall approach toward safety, they bring a different perspective to the situation. While a School Police Officer or SRO's primary responsibility is law enforcement, a good officer will strive to employ non-punitive techniques when interacting with students. Arrests are generally used only as a last resort under specified circumstances. Additionally, resources such as the Averted School Violence (ASV) reporting system, enables school police and other law enforcement officers, school personnel and mental health professionals to share their stories and lessons learned, in order to improve school safety and help prevent future tragedies.
If your school currently has or is seeking to find a School Police Officer or SRO, the NASCPC can help integrate the benefits of this resource into your overall safety strategy by helping you develop the most effective program for your community. By identifying the key issues your school seeks to mitigate with a School Police Officer or SRO, we can then pursue the best planning and strategy. We can also help you to identify any local funding that may be available to offset the cost of this important resource for your school safety ecosystem.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If your school is considering starting their own school police department, we have professionals on staff to support you. We can help with the process and guide you through the evaluation of options about what is best for your particular circumstances.
Once a school policing plan is in place, we can show you how to best incorporate the unique skill-sets of officers with other resources your school may offer. By opening the lines of communication with mental health counselors, school administrators, local law enforcement, parents, and students your school can get the most positive benefit from school officers as a genuine part of your school community.
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