A School Resource Officer (SRO) is a certified law enforcement officer who is assigned full-time to a school. For this, SROs receive many hours of ongoing specialized training. The concept is similar to the "cop on foot patrol" who knows the public he serves on a first-name basis and is sensitive to their particular needs.
Like many adults, some students view officers solely as enforcers of the laws. By establishing a daily rapport, SROs serve as positive role models for students and achieve a better understanding of officers' duties and responsibilities.
Security and safety within the school are other concerns of the SROs. They evaluate situations and make recommendations to school administrators in reference to safety issues in the schools. The mere presence of an officer helps deter unwanted persons from frequenting campuses.
Students are encouraged to seek the personalized attention of SROs. Each officer is specially trained to conduct informal, individual or group discussions. SROs are available for conferences with students, parents and faculty members regarding law-related problems and crime prevention techniques. SROs are familiar with various social services and local community resources that are available for referral.
SROs visit classrooms to make presentations of a law-related nature such as Drug Education, Police: Their Role in Society, the History of Law Enforcement and other related topics. SROs are also available as a resource for teachers in developing specialty programs tailored to specific units of study, court procedures, citizenship, self-esteem, forensic science, etc. Through classroom instruction, students gain a better understanding of the police and the importance of laws to a society.
SROs gain a better perspective of the youngsters in their schools. By carefully assessing the needs of individual students, SROs will be more aware of the development of unhealthy or destructive behavioral patterns. Through early intervention, SROs may redirect negative behavior before a student will be referred to the Criminal Justice system.
The SRO Program was first implemented in Flint, Michigan, in 1951. Since the program's inception, it has successfully been put into practice in 35 states. Sheriff Truman Jones started the SRO Program in Rutherford County in 1993 with five officers in five schools. There are currently SROs working in all 47 county schools helping to assure students safety and education.
Additional Responsibilities: The involvement of SROs extends far beyond the classroom and the normal workday. SROs participate in parent-teacher and faculty meetings, student social and sporting events, and club projects. The presence of SROs tends to strengthen the student/officer bonds and shows the officers' commitment to the students and their education and safety.
• SROs are not school disciplinarians. An SRO takes action when a principal requests police involvement in a perceived violation of law or a violation of law in their presence.
• SROs coordinate their activities with principals and staff members and seek permission, advice and guidance before enacting any program within the school.
• SROs are police officers and are sworn to uphold the law.
• SROs are available for conferences with students, parents and faculty members to assist them with problems of a law enforcement or crime prevention nature.
• At the request of principals, SROs will take action against an unwanted guest who appears on campus and at school functions.
• Should it become necessary to conduct informal police interviews with students, it will be done in accordance with state law.
• SROs give assistance to other police officers in matters regarding their school assignment whenever necessary.
• SROs will attend and participate in school functions as often as possible.