In a meeting with the Federal Commission on School Safety, Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), recently unveiled recommended standards for school resource officer programs. (Think armed officers trained specifically for the school environment.)
NASRO defines a school resource officer (SRO) as a “sworn, certified law enforcement officer assigned to a community-based policing program and actively working in a collaborative effort with the school district.” That definition is important, says Canady. Straying from it can hinder the SRO’s effectiveness and even make the program detrimental to the school, community, and law enforcement, he cautions.
According to its press release, NASRO’s recommendations for SROs cover four areas:
- Administrative standards, including the definition and purpose of an SRO.
- The careful selection of law enforcement officers for SRO positions.
- Specialized SRO training, including adolescent mental health, threat assessment, and active shooter response.
- Interagency collaboration between school districts and law enforcement agencies.
It’s not enough to simply put police officers in schools, or arm school staff, warns NASRO. “I cannot emphasize enough how critical it is for officers to be carefully selected and specially trained to function in the school environment,” said Canady. “This is always a factor in the success or failure of any SRO program.”
So who’s a good SRO candidate?
That would be a law enforcement officer who’s passionate about working with youth and has some experience leading young people, even if on a volunteer basis, Canady told Emergency Management. “As a former SRO supervisor, that may have been the biggest challenge… It’s the most unique position in law enforcement; there’s a lot involved in the package.”
The idea candidate should also have at least three years of police work, as well as tactical experience and firearm skills. Training is ongoing and varied following an initial 40-hour course, Canady told the magazine.
Whether or not your school decides to add SROs to your campuses, at the very least ensure you can respond effectively to emergencies, or prevent them altogether through adequate (and automated) communications.
For more, read about 5 problems and solutions affecting your school security and daily operations, which you can begin tackling or refining now.