School Resource Officers
Prior to the 1950s, the concept of a School Resource Officer (SRO) was not widely known. Most educational interaction between schools and local law enforcement was done on an informal basis and by request.
In the late 1950s, the first SRO program was started in Flint, Michigan. Its overall goal was to improve the relationship between the local police and youth. For the first time ever, officers were placed in schools on a full-time basis. They served as teachers and counselors.
The program was determined to be a huge success and Flint, Michigan became a role model for future SRO programs across the country. Positive evaluations have continued to keep the program in place for almost 60 years.
In January 1973, the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals convened in Washington, D.C. to formulate goals for crime reduction and prevention. The Commission recommended that every agency over 400 employees should assign a full-time officer to each junior high and high school to teach classes, counsel students, serve as a resource, and enforce the law. This was the first time the SRO program received national recognition.
The National Association of School Resource Officers has adopted the triad approach for law enforcement programs. This program outlines the role of the SRO as that of:
- Law enforcement officer
SROs are frequently asked to assist with other issues such as suicide intervention, drugs, gangs, family crisis situations, and school-related matters to name a few. In many cases, the SRO is more than just a cop in a school. They become friends to the students, faculty, and parents. They are asked many times to help in situations that typically would be considered outside the realm of police work.