Crime Prevention Corner: School resource officers are an integral part of school security

Ron Craig, Crime Prevention/Community Policing Officer

        School resource officers have become the backbone of school safety and security, not only locally but nationwide. The COVID-19 coronavirus has not changed this.
        Many schools in the area that have not heretofore had SROs in their schools now have them, and others that have had only one SRO for multiple school buildings now have several.
        For schools that have changed to all virtual learning, most SROs are being used to supplement patrol divisions or have been assigned other duties.
        In Lake Township, our schools have not gone to virtual learning for the most part, so our SRO, Officer Bob Roe, is in the school buildings every day classes are being held there with face mask in place.
        Surveys have shown students and teachers alike feel safer when SROs are on duty in school buildings, and for good reason. These officers may be their last line of defense should a violent situation arise.
        It is only common sense that students will do better in school when they feel safer, so an argument can be reasonably made that the presence of an SRO contributes to improvements in the students’ educational environment.
        Before Columbine, having law enforcement officers in schools was all but unheard of.
        As the idea of placing officers in schools began to take shape in this country, there was much resistance to the movement, not only from some parents, but also from some students and teachers. The idea was to many a shocking one.
        Since those days, we have learned there are many benefits to having SROs in our schools. SROs have nurtured relationships with students that have resulted in a new respect by the students for authority figures.
        Students have learned they have someone to whom they can reach out when they need help.
        Some youngsters have resentment toward an adult who is not their natural parent but who tries to discipline them or tell them what to do. In many cases, SROs have become adults to whom these youngsters can turn for help and advice.
        SROs have also shown they can help break down the barriers between students and teaching staff. As students become more comfortable interacting with SROs, they learn they can also trust other authority figures, such as teachers. This can and does work both ways, however, as teachers have helped paved the way for good relationships between students and SROs.
        While the impact of having SROs varies from school district to school district, and even from building to building, there is no doubt the officers have benefitted the schools, the students, the teachers, and administrative staff.
        As a trained SRO myself, I have found several students at Lake Schools have shown a high regard for SROs there.
        This article is a public service from the Crime Prevention and Community Policing Division of the Lake Township Police Department. Township residents may obtain further information on crime prevention and public safety topics by contacting Ron Craig, crime prevention specialist/community policing officer, at 419-481-6354.


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