SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER PROGRAM
1. Briefly describe your program.
The School Resource Officer Program is designed to impact all crime on school campuses. We have taken specially selected, trained and talented police officers and placed these officers in the school setting. The focus of each officer adjusts with the particular needs and problems of the students, school, and district.
The "Project Star Study," which was performed in the 1960’s as research in response to a series of riots that occurred throughout the United States during that era, was performed in four different states. The four states selected were California, Michigan, New Jersey and our own great state of Texas. The study’s conclusions and recommendations were designed to have an impact on the reduction of crime. Project Star was cognizant of education and training programs. It is interesting to note that the Star Project study observed, "the organizational emphasis on efficiency and impersonal relationships characteristic of large city police departments in urban regions diminished the opportunities for personal face – to – face relationships between the police officer and the public which contributes to antagonistic police – citizen interactions." The Star Project then recommended that, "a large proportion of police officers who patrol the central cities of urban regions should be demilitarized and should be PHYSICALLY LOCATED FULL TIME IN URBAN SCHOOLS." (Emphasis added)
Based on the Star Project observations and recommendations we formulated a philosophy based on what we refer to as the "P.I.E." Theory. These letters represent Prevention, Intervention, Education, and Enforcement. The traditional law enforcement method of incarceration (cuff-em and stuff-em) is given the lowest priority and is to be used only as a last resort. Zero Tolerance being withheld for major offences such as major violent crimes. Our approach to the violence, drugs and crime on campus is to provide instruction and educational information both in and out of the class room on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, gangs and a variety of other topics such as traffic safety, suicide prevention, family violence, child abuse and others. We also started other programs such as Campus Crime Stoppers and Drug Free Youth In Texas (D.F.Y.I.T.) which are student organizations. The purpose of these student organizations is to empower the students so that they can be apart of the problem solving process.
Duties of an S.R.O. include, but are not limited to, counseling with students, parents and school staffs to resolve problems or misunderstanding in order to reduce the possibility of criminal activity and violence. The S.R.O. also assists with existing school programs and participates in school functions such as athletic events, dances and P.T.A. programs.
Goals of the S.R.O. Program are to build rapport with the student body, give students a chance to interact with a police officer, create and start programs which will benefit the student, school district, police department, and the community. Goals also include presenting a positive role image thereby instilling good citizenship qualities and finally to lower the crime rate in the long term.
Benefits to the school district include:
The visible deterrence of crime by having a uniformed police officer on campus. Principals, who are already burdened on a daily basis with the tedious and sometimes critical decisions that have to be made as campus administrators, have the availability of expertise from someone trained in criminal matters and emergency situations. The risk of violence on campus and liability risk that goes with it is reduced. School Resource Officers trained in "Prevention, Intervention and Education methodology reduces the need for the unattractive possibility of Security Guards.
Benefits to the community include:
The most precious commodities we have are our children. Since so many school children are the victims of crime, and studies show that young adults are now the number one age group to become a victim of crime, the conclusion inevitably follows that parents also suffer from crime. School Districts who have formed S.R.O. Programs within their jurisdictions have, in essence, responded to the concerns of their constituents.
If an offense occurs within the jurisdiction of the school district, the S.R.O. is available to quickly respond to the scene to conduct a thorough investigation. This relieves the need for a street officer to respond, and thereby allows the street officer more patrol time and availability for emergency calls for service.
The coordinated efforts of district administrators and police professionals have proved to be a most successful and beneficial alliance in achieving the overall goal of providing to the student, faculty and staff a safer educational environment that is beneficial to learning.
The successful results of the S.R.O. Program are too numerous to list; however, a few of the more notable successes would be as follows:
N.B.C. Nightly News did a segment on our Campus Crime Stopper Programs featuring our students in an active role as crime solvers by offering rewards for information on criminal activity. Attention was brought to our Campus Crime Stopper Programs when the local affiliate of N.B.C. News discovered that our programs were recovering guns and other weapons of violence before they could be used to do harm. One case of interest to them was a student who had threatened to bring a gun to school to shoot an assistant principal. An anonymous informant called in this information. Armed with this information, the suspect was apprehended the next morning by the School Resource Officer and was found to be in possession of a fully loaded .38 caliber pistol. This intervention prevented the suspect from carrying out his threat or causing any further harm to anyone.
The above story is not uncommon. Maybe the particulars vary from incident to incident but the circumstances are all too often similar to numerous other incidents where tragedy struck. Successes like the one described above are difficult to measure. How do you place a value on a human life?
Our program has been used as a model for other police departments and school districts throughout Texas and Arkansas. Other states have made inquiry about our program indicating that interest in our methods are growing. Sgt. Erter and Officer Hooper started the first formal School Resource Officer Training in the State of Texas and have been requested to instruct throughout Texas and Arkansas.
Our program sponsored the First National and State Campus Crime Stopper Training Seminar held August 2nd and 3rd, 1993 at the Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Texas, next to the Ranger’s baseball stadium. Approximately 150 young adults, administrators, and police officers attended. We continue to instruct for the Governor’s Office at Texas Crime Stopper State Conventions and elsewhere on various topics.
The D.F.Y.I.T. (Drug Free Youth In Texas) Program has also been featured on national television. This program utilizes all aspects of community involvement. The churches, local government, schools, police and local businesses are an important part of this program. The concept is quite simple. Students volunteer to test for drugs and when the results of the tests return that the student is drug free, then the student is issued a "D.F.Y.I.T." identification card which is used by the student to receive discounts on purchases at participating businesses. This program creates a reverse peer-pressure and gives the students monetary incentives not to take illegal drugs or drink alcoholic beverages. This program is in its 5th year and continues to grow in popularity among the students.
We realize that bad things can happen anywhere at any time, no matter what precautions are taken. Our hearts go out to those jurisdictions, some near, some distant, that have experienced violence in their schools with tragic results. While realizing that tragedy can strike at our schools also, we contribute the fact that we have not suffered the same trauma as other communities to our proactive, aggressive and innovative approach.
2. Contact person:
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.