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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

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August 2021 | Volume 14 | Issue 8

The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) held its 31st annual School Safety Conference in Orlando, Florida in July, with more than 1,100 school resource officers (SROs) and school officials attending in person, as well as an additional 100 virtual attendees. The annual conference was entirely virtual in 2020 as a result of COVID, but returned to an in-person event this year so that SROs, law enforcement leadership, and school administrators could collaborate on best practices for a ‘return to normalcy’ in the nation’s K-12 schools.

Keynote speakers included Chief Tony Pustizzi (retired), a first responder with the Coral Springs (Florida) Police Department at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting, who discussed school violence preparedness; Detective Dr. Beth Sanborn of the Lower Gwynedd (Pennsylvania) Police Department, who presented on her 2020 research about collaboration between SROs and school personnel; and Michele Gay, Executive Director of Safe and Sound Schools, who facilitated a panel discussion on the mental health impact of the COVID pandemic on students.

NASRO Executive Director Mo Canady (center left) and Team Kids Founder Julie Hudash (center right) pictured with Team Kids members.
The conference included dozens of training sessions for attendees, as well as presentations such as ‘Just Kidding’ by COPS Office grant partner Team Kids. The City of Phoenix and Team Kids were awarded FY20 microgrant funds to implement the Team Kids Challenge program, which empowers children to work with law enforcement in their community to enact positive change.

Throughout the weeklong conference, attendees collaborated to identify best practices and share success stories about effective programs and responses for improving the holistic health of students and professionals returning to school in the fall. SROs are an integral member of the school team, providing support as caring and trusted adults for children and teens in K-12 schools.

NASRO President D.J. Schoeff summarized the conference by saying, “In this challenging time, we find ourselves in a social storm. . . . I commend you for continually seeking ways to improve yourself and your program. Each year, we strive to bring the highest level of training to help [SROs] succeed in keeping our nation’s schools safe while also building positive relationships.”

Elizabeth Simpson
Staff Writer
COPS Office

Photo Courtesy of NASRO.

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