Why SRO's Are Important

Why SRO's Are Important

What is an SRO?

The United States Department of Justice defines School resource officers (SRO) as “sworn law enforcement officers responsible for safety and crime prevention in schools.” SROs are typically employed by a local police or sheriff’s agency and work closely with administrators in an effort to create a safer environment for both students and staff. The responsibilities of SROs are similar to regular police officers in that they have the ability to make arrests, respond to calls for service, and document incidents. School resource officers typically have additional duties, including mentoring and conducting presentations on youth-related issues. SROs are not synonymous with school based law enforcement (SBLE) officers – which are typically employed by a school district’s law enforcement agency, rather than local or city law enforcement – though they are often used interchangeably.

What are appropriate roles of school resource officers? 

The goals of well-founded SRO programs include providing safe learning environments in our nation’s schools, providing valuable resources to school staff members, fostering positive relationships with youth, developing strategies to resolve problems affecting youth and protecting all students so that they can reach their fullest potentials. NASRO considers it a best practice to use a “triad concept” to define the three main roles of school resource officers: educator (i.e. guest lecturer), informal counselor/mentor, and law enforcement officer.

What evidence exists that school resource officers are valuable?

Researchers at Canada’s Carleton University conducted a two-year study of an SRO program in the Regional Municipality of Peel. In their 2018 report, they concluded that for every dollar invested in the program, a minimum of $11.13 of social and economic value was created. The report lists numerous benefits of the program, including:

  • Prevention or minimization of property damage in the school and surrounding areas.
  • Prevention of student injuries and even death due to violence, drug overdoses, etc.
  • Reduction of the need for schools to call 911.
  • Reduction of the likelihood that a student will get a criminal record.
  • Increase of the likelihood that students (particularly those with mental health issues) will get the help they need from the social service and health care systems.
  • Increase in feelings of safety among students and staff.