CITY OF WEST
VALLEY CITY, UT
SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER PROGRAM (SRO )
Combating violence in our schools today is an issue that has been and is being addressed by the City of West Valley. Several programs have been implemented or are under development to aid our schools in fostering a safe environment where the children of the city, our future, can learn and grow. The police department of West Valley City is taking a leading role in the development of these programs.
The West Valley school resource officer program places a plain clothes officer in each senior and junior high school located with in the borders of West Valley city. These schools include Hunter and Granger high schools, Kennedy, Hunter, West lake and Valley Jr. high schools. The SRO program staffs six full time officers assigned to the youth unit in the detective division, the program began in 1981, a year after the incorporation of West Valley.
The SRO program relieves the need for a patrol officer to respond and handle incidents that occur within the school. The officer responds to the needs of the students and staff, completing initial reports, investigations and making referrals to court as needed. The SRO’s work with the school administration, teachers, and students to create an environment of safety. The officer is present during the school day and at special school functions to add a law enforcement presence to the school environment.
The SRO’s at the senior high level instruct a class during the regular school day. The law enforcement class familiarizes the students with criminal and traffic law, the powers of police, and the responsibilities of citizens within the judicial system.
Although there is no measurable way to calculate the number of incidents that don’t occur be cause of the mere presence of a full time officer in the school, it can be easily measured with intelligence information. Multiple incidents at the school. With access to the student population SRO’s also assist other investigators in contacting and resolving problems that occur outside the school. In the 97-98 school year 903 cases were initially generated by the six SRO’s. In the same year 1800 separate investigations were handled by these six officers.
The SRO program is funded almost entirely by the city of West Valley, although the Granite school district pays for ˝ of the salary for the one officer during the nine month period. West Valley also supplies the officers with vehicles, computers, and other items that also incur cost.. There items are budgeted through the detective division.
STUDENT WATCH PROGRAM
The SRO and the principal select certain students to act as the eyes and ears of the SRO. The students are selected from different ethnic, social, and special interest groups giving the program broad cross section of the student body. The students would report to the SRO and or the principal. The students would be rewarded for the information given, these rewards would be based on the donations from area businesses. The program is in its early stages and the effectiveness of this program has yet to measured , although greater intelligence and crime prevention are sure to follow.
Peer court is a program in which juvenile offenders are held accountable through a sentence imposed by their peers. Peer court programs target first-time, misdemeanor, and nonviolent offenders. The court requires the juvenile to admit guilt before participating. Parental consent and participation are mandatory. Generally, the program will expunge or dismiss charges against the defendant if he or she completes the program successfully.
In Peer court the juveniles assume the roles of prosecuting attorneys, defense attorney, jurors, and judges. This educates the juvenile of the legal system as well as developing and practicing life skills. There is evidence that young offenders referred to peer court are less likely to continue delinquent behavior that those offenders handled by traditional courts or disciplinary procedures.
A coordinator would be necessary to schedule times, places, and cases. The coordinator could be hired by the city or time donated by community activists. This program is being researched for future use in the city.
PEER LEADERSHIP TEAM
The PLT (Peer Leadership Team) is a class offered as a regular period during the day. The class has the mission of educating and training the students on the values that the program emphasized such as abstinence from drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, presentations can also be made on date rape, domestic violence, and gangs. These skills are intended to be used by the students to influence their peers by example. The makeup of the class is intended to be multi-culture, multi-racial and reflect the diversity of the student body. The class is staffed and taught by teachers or faculty and should not incur any extra cost. Again it is difficult to measure the effectiveness of a program that is preventative in nature.
This program brings the neighborhood watch to the school, via the PTA. PTA volunteers would patrol the school during peak times and during special events. The adult volunteers would have a basic understanding of rules and policies enforced by the schools. The parents would contact students within the school if a violation of such rules occurred. The volunteer would then notify the SRO or school administrators. Achievements of this program would include, community partnership, and again intelligence. This program would have a minimal cost based on the volunteer standard. Training time and equipment would be split between the school district and the police department.
This program would be presented in the schools through the COP and SRO’s and involves role playing by the students. The role play would touch on mental, physical, and emotional abuse within the context of teen dating. Peers would relate to the role playing done by the students to assist them in making more informed choices. This program is co-sponsored by the Utah Attorney Generals office and the West Valley Community Oriented Police Division. Results will be measured during the question and answer period following the presentation and the reduction of reported dating violence.
Summary: In summary, these programs listed above whether being used or developed should promote safety in our schools, bolster community support and add value to the education our children receive. The approaches mentioned are pro-active in nature and show the progressive trends toward the prevention of crime and the reduction of violence in schools.
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.