Special Report
School Climate & Safety

School-Based Policing Under Fiscal Pressure

By Liana Loewus — January 04, 2013 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

An important group of support-staff members—school resource officers, also known as school-based law enforcement—has been hit hard by the recent recession and its lingering impact.

Kevin Quinn, a spokesman for the National Association of School Resource Officers, says that several years ago, the Hoover, Ala.-based organization estimated there were 10,000 to 15,000 such officers nationwide. Now, the group estimates the number at closer to 7,000.

“If we used our training conference that we host every year [as a reference], I’d say between 2007 and 2009, it dropped to about half the attendees,” he says.

Funding for school resource officers, or SROs, can come from any number of sources, but often at least part of it comes from the local police department. “With how the economy changed several years ago, police departments are figuring out where the funding should go,” Quinn says. “You can’t take cops and detectives off the street. So some decided that SRO programs unfortunately were the first ones to get cut.”

The consequences of those cuts are more dire than they might have been 60 years ago, when such officers were initially placed in schools so that students could see police officers in friendly roles.

More recently, “the role of the SRO has evolved into actual police,” says Quinn, who currently serves as the law-enforcement officer at Hamilton High School in the 40,000-student Chandler, Ariz., district.

First Responders

In addition to giving presentations on the law, drugs, violence, and community issues, officers today are also the first responders to incidents of school violence.

And in some cases, on-site police have proved invaluable. In September 2010, Erik Karney, the SRO at Socastee High School in Myrtle Beach, S.C., restrained a student who had several pipe bombs and a gun—just after the student fired at him, hitting him with shrapnel. A subsequent investigation found that the student had been planning a school shooting modeled after the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado.

The recent tragic events in Newtown, Conn., have ramped up rhetoric on the need for putting SROs—who are necessarily armed—in schools.

“We’ve heard of a lot of legislators writing legislation proposing additional funding to increase officers in schools—especially elementary schools, since most SROs are in junior high and high schools,” says Quinn. Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, where 20 students and six teachers were shot and killed by an intruder, did not have an SRO on staff.

See Also

There has also been a recent increase in requests from districts wanting to host training for new SROs, says Quinn, which he sees as a good sign.

“A school resource officer is your first responder, with no response time. ... If something happens, I’m already here, I know the campus, I know the kids, I know where to go,” he says. “I don’t care if your police department has the best response time in the world—there’s still a lag time between picking up the phone and having an officer respond.”

This story has been updated from the print version of Quality Counts 2013.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Academic Integrity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
As AI writing tools rapidly evolve, learn how to set standards and expectations for your students on their use.
Content provided by Turnitin
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
The Science of Reading: Tools to Build Reading Proficiency
The Science of Reading has taken education by storm. Learn how Dr. Miranda Blount transformed literacy instruction in her state.
Content provided by hand2mind

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety How a Superintendent Urged Parents to Discuss Gun Violence With Their Kids
The leader of the school district that serves Monterey Park, Calif., encouraged parents not to "let the TV do the talking."
5 min read
A woman comforts her son while visiting a makeshift memorial outside Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif., Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. Authorities searched for a motive for the gunman who killed multiple people at the ballroom dance studio during Lunar New Year celebrations.
A woman comforts her son while visiting a memorial outside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif., two days after a gunman killed 11 people and injured several others as they celebrated Lunar New Year.
Jae C. Hong/AP
School Climate & Safety Guidance on Responding to Students' Questions About Shootings
A guide for educators on ways to foster a sense of safety and security among students at a time when gun violence seems widespread.
4 min read
People gather for a vigil honoring the victims of a shooting several days earlier at Star Ballroom Dance Studio, Monday, Jan. 23, 2023, in Monterey Park, Calif. A gunman killed multiple people late Saturday amid Lunar New Year's celebrations in the predominantly Asian American community.
Two days after a mass shooting that killed 11 people, people gather for a vigil outside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif. In the aftermath of shootings and other community violence, educators are called on to help students process their emotions and help them feel safe.
Ashley Landis/AP
School Climate & Safety Many Schools Don't Have Carbon Monoxide Detectors. Are They Overlooking the Risk?
Less than a quarter of states have laws requiring carbon monoxide detectors in school buildings.
5 min read
Image of a carbon monoxide detector with a blurred blueprint in the background.
iStock/Getty
School Climate & Safety Students of Color Disproportionately Suffer From Police Assaults at School, Says Report
A new report tallies up assaults by school-based police officers on students of color.
6 min read
Deputy Carroll walks the hall of Rice Elementary School with an administrator on Wednesday.
A school police officer walks the halls of Rice Elementary School in Greenwood, S.C., with an administrator on April 6, 2022.
Lindsey Hodges/The Index-Journal via AP