Tuesday, November 24, 2009

School Resource Officers

Some time ago I was sitting in a restaurant eating lunch. It wasn't very crowded and so it was easy to hear the conversations at the other tables. I don't usually pay any attention, but one woman at one of the other tables was complaining about the public high school in town. She said something about the school being so bad that there had to be a police officer there all the time. She said she would never let her children go to such a school.

I could have said something, but didn't want to ruin my lunch or hers with an argument. So I continued eating, getting more angry as time passed.

The police officer she was talking about is called an "SRO" or "school resource officer." He wasn't there because the school had a lot of problems. He was there to help prevent problems.

The main duty of an SRO is to insure the safety of the students, staff, faculty, and the school. Each officer in the program is a regular police officer who has taken extra training to deal with students and schools. It is currently one of the fastest growing areas of law enforcement.

Besides safety, SROs also educate, counsel, give classroom presentations, patrol halls, prevent delinquency, and perform other duties as needed by their particular school.

The biggest problem SROs have is job security. They are police officers, but whether they will be in a school depends on funding. Of course, when schools cut their budgets, the School Resource Officer position is usually one of the first to go. Some, however, are paid through grants and collections which provide an extra source of funding.

So today, as we approach Thanksgiving, I just want to say "thanks" to all the school resource officers. They have a tough job, but provide a valuable service. I always felt better knowing our school had one on duty.

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