More and more public schools across the country are implementing the inclusion of uniformed police officers – usually referred to as “school resource officers” – into the day to day operations of their educational facilities.
Not everyone is comfortable with this trend.
On each side of the fence, you have two incredibly passionate parties that disagree with the fundamental differences of whether or not police officers should be in US public schools.
On the “pro-police officer” side of things, you have concerned parents that (understandably so) want to keep police officers in school facilities to prevent shootings like the recent attack on Sandy Hook Elementary.
On the “pro-children” side of things, you have concerned parents that point to the recent rough shake down attack and arrest of an uncooperative 16-year-old girl near Columbia, South Carolina that points to the overaggressive tendencies that some police officers have in carrying out their duties.
To better understand the impact that the presence of police officers in US schools have, and whether or not this trend has any real hope of stemming the tide of violence, crime, and even visit activities in schools throughout the United States, we’ve included some inside information in this short guide that you’ll want to refer to.
Shall we jump right in?
Thousands of schools across the country are implementing “school resource officers”
The practice of implementing school resource officers, uniformed police officers that patrol school grounds during school hours, started in the early 1990s in urban areas and major metropolitan cities.
New York City, Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, and a handful of other major cities were the first to begin adopting the implementation of the school resource officers, and its original intention was to curb the illicit activities of the students themselves.
All of these cities were dealing with significant crime and gang issues, and recruitment of new gang members straight out of high school were at all time high levels.
There has been a marked decline since the implementation of those school resource officers in crime and gang activity in the areas that implemented these solutions, though it’s impossible to know whether or not all of that can be tracked back to school resource officers.
Since their early 1990s, however, school systems all over the country have put more and more resource officers into play. Suburban areas, rural areas, and miniature school districts across the country now have armed and uniformed policeman patrolling their halls with a “zero tolerance” policy for misconduct.
The dual effect of school resource officers
This has increased the amount of arrests (especially for minor crimes and offenses) in schools, which some parents aren’t exactly overjoyed with.
After all, who wants to find out that their teenager now has a mark on their permanent record because of some teenage foolishness? Even more concerning is that similar foolishness in a wealthy private school would be handled in house.
In San Diego alone, arrests for minor crimes (property crimes like vandalism and graffiti, drug and alcohol related offenses, etc.) are sky high – with more than 2500 and arrest rates across all major San Diego unified school districts between the years 2008 in 2013. Many parents believe that minor offenses would be better served being handled by the school, since that is the way it would be handled in a private school. The disparity of how rich and non-rich kids are treated is one of the main criticisms of the policy.
On the flip side, of course, uniformed school resource officers in San Diego have also made more than 1300 arrests for weapon offenses, have stopped upwards of 50 bomb threats, and have made more than 1000 of arrests in relation to sexual offenses and assault with a deadly weapon.
Not all officers are rotten apples – but many believe changes are necessary
Though there are more and more instances of police aggression being captured by the public today than ever before (which may have less to do with a more overly aggressive police force and more to do with everyone having a video camera in their pocket), it isn’t reasonable to lump all police officers in with those bad apples.
The overwhelming majority of school resource officers are there to protect and serve the student body, the administration, and the faculty – and for the most part, they are doing a fantastic job. Obviously, we are living in as uncertain a world as we’ve ever lived in before, and it’s important that we are protecting our young ones as best we can.
Changes to the nationwide programs of putting armed uniformed police officers into school obviously need to be made to adjust and improve the system, but it certainly doesn’t look like a system that is going to disappear anytime soon.