Does the U.S. Need 19,000 School Resource Officers Stationed in High Schools Nationwide?
In this new edition for “What Would Jesse Ventura Do?”, the Governor and I researched the cops hired to police our senior highs, school resource officers (SROs). These officers have recently gotten a bad rap lately after one of their own body-slammed a teenaged girl in Columbia, South Carolina.
This altercation began the nationwide discussion: should we have a police presence on school campuses, and is it doing more harm than good? Or is it even making a difference at all?
There are about 19,000 sworn police stationed in schools nationwide, according to U.S. Department of Justice estimates. Confrontations between armed police officers and students in schools are becoming more frequent and arrests are on the rise, according to a report from the National Association of State Boards of Education.
These altercations and arrests have become increasingly high-profile because of cell phone videos and social media attention. They are also being scrutinized for bias and alleged brutality in the same way as encounters on the streets have become between cops and adult civilians (see: New York, Ferguson, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland, Dayton, and most other cities).
Youth Rights Activists and federal officials argue that these incidents show that the School Resource Officers lack the proper training needed to interact effectively with children, especially when they are black, Hispanic, or disabled. Only eleven states have laws that specify training requirements for officers deployed to classrooms, and those laws are inconsistent.
A quick history lesson: School Resource Officers were first placed in schools during the late 1950s. Their overall goal was to improve the relationship between local police and youth. Officers were placed in schools on a full-time basis, and the program was a huge success, which prompted other schools around the country to take on the practice in coming years.
Washington University Law Review found in a recent study that the presence of School Resource Officers increases the likelihood of students being involved in the justice system for virtually every offense that occurs in schools, including lower-level offenses like fighting and theft. According to Washington University’s report, the odds of a student accused of a low-level offense being referred to law enforcement in a school with a regular police presence is between 1.38 and 1.83 times higher than those without SROs.
Other studies show that high schoolers who have early run-ins with the law are more likely to drop out of school or potentially be arrested again later in life. These statistics lead us to question whether we should continue to police our schools.
What do you think about School Resource Officers? Sound off below!
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