Police in Classrooms: What Are the Alternatives?
Date:  11-03-2015

The viral video of a girl being pushed over and slammed to the ground by a School Resource Officer has opened up the conversation if SROs are the best option
The video of a 16-year old high school student pushed over backwards in her chair by a school resource officer (SRO), dragged, arrested and handcuffed is disturbing to watch. But it is not the first time that SROs have come under fire. An April 17, 2013 article in Reentry Central asked Do Police Officers in Schools Help or Harm Youth?

From the article:

“The term “school resource officer” (SRO) conjures up a vision of a librarian-type school official with stacks of old-fashioned encyclopedias and dusty dictionaries on shelves behind a modern computer with instant internet access to just about any resource a schoolchild might need. But, terms can be deceiving.

Resource officers are police officers that patrol schools or sit in their own little space inside a school building. Although serious criminal activity can occur at a school, a resource officer’s job often entails arresting young people for minor violations, thus criminalizing them forever.

Resource officers have been around for some time, but after the horrific mass murder of 20 children and six school staff members at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT many school districts are debating whether to put police in their schools as a safety measure. And while the NRA and others are actively promoting that idea, critics claim that a police presence in schools can open the door to the school-to-prison pipeline. A Justice Policy Institute report, Education Under Arrest: The Case Against Police in Schools claims that children in a school that has a police officer on duty are more likely to be arrested for minor infractions. The report states, “School resource officers interfere with the responsibility of schools to educate all students…First, SROs directly send youth into the justice system, which carries with it a lifetime of negative repercussions and barriers to education and employment. Second, in many school districts an arrest or referral to the justice system also means suspension and expulsion from school.” To read the full report click < a href=http://www.justicepolicy.org/uploads/justicepolicy/documents/educationunderarrest_fullreport.pdf > here.

An April 12, 2014 article in the New York Times found that children attending a school that has a school resource officer are more likely to end up in juvenile court than those attending a school without a police presence." Read more.

On the last days of October 2015, NPR produced two segments on SROS, their role in school, and an alternative to replace them.

The first segment on October 30 asks, “What If Every High School Had A 'Justice Program' Instead Of A Cop?” and can be read here.

The second segment, heard on “All Things Considered” on October 31, 2015, looks at the controversy surrounding SROs and discusses how minor infractions are considered a crime in many American schools. Read the transcript of The Changing Role Of Police In American Classrooms” or listen to the audio of the interview.