As the new school year begins, law enforcement agencies throughout the country are considering innovative approaches for ensuring the safety of students resuming in-person classes and those who must learn remotely during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, calls for public safety reform have led some communities to restructure their long-standing school resource officer (SRO) programs. This edition of the Dispatch highlights the role of SROs and methods for increasing their effectiveness.
- Mobile or Assigned? Pros and Cons of Two Different Models of Placing SROs provides insight on two approaches law enforcement agencies can use to deploy officers to work in schools. This article explores current SRO deployment practices and considers the benefits of adopting mobile and assigned strategies.
- We are also featuring Preventing Problems by Promoting Positive Practices, a new SRO training program now available through the COPS Office’s online training portal. The training—which can be either online or in-person—encourages SROs, school security officers, school police officers, teachers, counselors, school psychologists, coaches, and administrators to better collaborate in maintaining a safe learning environment.
- This edition also contains an article sharing information on how specific agencies in California, Colorado, Florida, and Texas are adjusting to safeguarding children when schools are closed. Protecting Kids When Schools are Closed was written to highlight different methods law enforcement is using to ensure that distance learning does not result in students losing contact with the alternate authority figures they have access to in traditional school environments.
- This month, the U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) released a study, Mass Attacks in Public Spaces – 2019, which examines 34 targeted attacks that occurred in public or semi-public spaces, including schools. To inform prevention efforts, NTAC researchers studied the tactics, backgrounds, and pre-attack behaviors of the perpetrators to identify and affirm recommended best practices in threat assessment and prevention. Law enforcement officers, mental health professionals, workplace managers, school personnel, faith-based leaders, and many others all play a significant role in the multidisciplinary team approach that is the foundation of the field of threat assessment.
Our young people are among our most cherished resources, and the COPS Office commends departments that are recommitting to the protection of their safety by thinking critically about how to best serve this population. Since its founding, the COPS Office has invested nearly $1.2 billion in grants to fund the hiring of over 7,840 SROs and support local school safety enhancements. We have also developed numerous school and youth safety publications, guidebooks, training programs, and multimedia resources that we make available to the field at no cost. I invite you to visit our website, conduct a keyword search, and consider approaches that have been successful elsewhere in the country.
– Director Keith