The recent Sandy Hook tragedy broke many hearts across the nation and it has served as a catalyst for many public school districts across the nation to carefully look into their security measures in place and consider school resource officers.
Although an incident like Sandy Hook’s can occur anywhere at any time, most experts agree having a school resource officer stationed at every school will greatly minimize a similar occurrence. However, this is impractical due to the minimal resources the vast majority of police departments have across the nation.
Are School Resource Officers the answer?
There has been plenty of talk about allowing teachers or administrators to be armed while in schools. While this may sound like a logical option at first, it’s easy to see how this can spell disaster. How many disgruntled teachers and administrators are out there in our public school systems. Are we to believe a teacher or administrator can’t snap and kill a few people at their school during an argument with a staff member they despise? Keep in mind approximately 8-10% of the country’s population is mentally ill and some of them are bound to be public school employees, including teachers, administrators and other staff members.
School resource officers have been the new breed of police officers across the nation for the last twenty-five years or so and they have been extremely effective. Hiring them would be a more logical choice.
What Are School Police?
A school resource officer is a certified “cop” just like all other police officers but specializes in dealing mainly with juvenile and young adult crimes as well as serving as an important resource for the communities they serve in and around their schools. For example, a typical day for a school cop can include monitoring traffic in the morning during ingress as well as dismissal and issuing citations as necessary, arresting a juvenile for bringing a weapon to school and transporting him or her to juvenile intake facility, and assisting school administration by counseling a troubled child through a police officer’s perspective. A school police officer also has a “duty to act” and responds to area calls as backup for other local police department and is sometimes the first officer to arrive at a crime scene.
School resource officers have become invaluable in public school systems across the country because they are simply effective at preventing crimes and drug usage in schools. In counties without schools police departments, some municipal police departments are able to provide a school resource officer who conducts a variety of presentations designed to keep children away from drugs and committing crimes. However, with limited available police officers, this is a rarity.
Other districts are able to have full-fledged school police departments such as those in Miami, FL and Los Angeles, CA. These departments serve a valuable purpose as they not only curtail drugs and violence in schools through presentations and being proactive, they are a steady presence at schools helping to minimize the type of violence which occurred in Sandy Hook.
The trend for the future appears to be leaning towards forming school police departments in those cities and counties who are not yet on board. Think about this; imagine having a schools police officer at every middle and high school in the district as well as one who can cover two to three elementary schools in their respective areas. While it’s almost impossible at this point to cover all of the elementary schools at the same time, by having one police officer assigned to a handful of area elementary schools you can greatly minimize school dangers due to vast public awareness that there are cops in all of your area schools!
Aside from protecting children from violence, these trained school police officers would have access to the same training as other municipal and county agencies, giving them a distinct advantage over criminals trying to breach security in schools. These officers would also be able to maintain a steady presence in and around the schools while strengthening the positive perception of having kids attend public schools instead of charter and private schools.
Extra-curricular events would also be covered by school police officers in order to maintain the highest possible safety standards.
Having school resource officers in public schools is the only real answer and best choice to help prevent a horrific tragedy like the one which occurred in Sandy Hook. It’s time for school districts to step up, get their priorities straight, and start funneling their funds where they should be; for the safety of all children attending our public schools.