Let’s look at the science for a change
Police in schools are not a new phenomenon. Apparently the first school police were used in the Fifties in Flint, Michigan. In the 1990’s the Clinton administration created the COPS program which expanded and militarized the police, deepened mass incarceration, and put police in schools to wreak more damage there, too.
SRO’s disproportionately harm poor students and students of color – all in the name of protecting students from mass shootings. But the irony is that school shootings are largely a suburban and rural phenomenon, virtually all school shooters are white, and 92% are male.
Suburban kids do the rampaging but city kids get the cops. Something’s wrong with this picture.
The following links are to mainly research studies and organizations, and they overwhelmingly point to how little empirical data actually exists to support the contention that SROs deter school shootings. Links to commonly-cited NRA and DOJ/COPS materials are provided so you can see for yourself how thin their claims are.
On the other hand, there is a mountain of evidence showing that SROs harm poor children and children of color.
- A Comparison of Averted and Completed School Attacks from the Police Foundation Averted School Violence Database (2019)
This data comes from a police foundation but it nevertheless shows that school rampages are largely a white, suburban phenomenon. In addition, 92% of all attackers are male.
- A Preliminary Report on the Police Foundation’s Averted School Violence Database (2019)
Jeffrey A. Daniels’s report is frequently cited by pro-SRO sources
- A Retrospective Study on Rampage School Shootings: Considerations for School-Based Threat Assessment Teams (2017)
The Classroom Avenger is a white rural or suburban male. Great tables.
- Armored school doors, bulletproof whiteboards and secret snipers (2018)
Although school security has grown into a $2.7 billion market — an estimate that does not account for the billions more spent on armed campus police officers — little research has been done on which safety measures do and do not protect students from gun violence.
- Assigning Police Officers to Schools (2013)
Not a lot of science in here, but references here are often used to bolster the NRA and police case for SRO’s
- Averted School Violence Statistics (2017)
95% of school violence is suburban and rural. There are numerous cases of attackers being stopped by teachers, guidance counselors, and others; and of attacks that an SRO would not have seen coming: Sandy Hook, for example, where the attacker was not a student.
- Bullies in Blue: The Problem with School Policing (2016)
Over the past 50 years, our schools have become sites of increased criminalization of young people—a disturbing fact that is even truer for poor Black and Latino communities. Today, police officers assigned to patrol schools can legally use physical force on students, arrest and handcuff them, and bring the full weight of the criminal justice system to bear on kids who are simply misbehaving. The primary role of police in schools is to enforce criminal laws, and virtually every violation of a school rule can be considered a criminal act if viewed through this police-first lens. Though these police are often referred to as “school resource officers,” their legal power and attending actions reveal that this designation only serves to mask that their presence has transformed schools into another site of concentrated policing. Such policing marks the start of the school-to-prison pipeline—the entry point to the criminal justice system for too many kids—and fuels mass incarceration.
- Circumventing the Law: Students’ Rights in Schools With Police (2010)
Over the past several decades, public schools in the United States have been increasingly transformed into high security environments, complete with surveillance technologies, security forces, and harsh punishments. The school resource officer (SRO) program, which assigns uniformed police officers to work in public schools, is one significant component of this new brand of school security. Although the intentions of the SRO program are clear—to help administrators maintain order in schools, deter students from committing criminal acts, and arrest students who do break the law—the potential unintended consequences of this program are largely unknown. This study employs ethnographic methodology in two public high schools with SROs to examine how students’ rights, including Fourth Amendment rights, Fifth Amendment rights, and privacy rights, are negotiated in public schools with full-time police presence. The results of this study suggest that schools administrators and SROs partner in ways that compromise and reduce the legal rights of students.
- Conflicting Cultures With a Common Goal: Collaborating With School Resource Officers (2014)
The National Association of School Psychologists is not wild about armed guards in the classroom but has tried to steer a middle course by advocating for better cooperation between those who practice the social sciences and cops. Good luck to that.
- Cops and Cameras: Public School Security as a Policy Response to Columbine (2009)
To implement effective policy, officials need to know what options work. A review of the existing literature emphasizes the need for evaluative studies of school security measures to determine whether these measures are truly effective. The few studies that have been conducted rely on perceptions as to whether security measures are effective. Such information provides initial insights but ultimately is not helpful. Programs such as Scared Straight and D.A.R.E. sounded incredibly promising and were proven to be ineffective (or even harmful) through evaluative studies (Gottfredson, 1997; Petrosino, Turpin-Petrosino, & Finckenauer, 2000). The dearth of evaluative work is surprising given the growing movement in criminal justice toward evidence-based policies. The lack of evaluations is also in stark contrast to other, more vetted school policies and programs implemented since Columbine, such as antibullying and antidelinquency programs.
- Discipline and Participation: The Long-Term Effects of Suspension and School Security on the Political and Civic Engagement of Youth (2014)
Since the early 1990s, schools across the United States have tightened their security practices and increased the punishments they give to students (see Cornell, 2006; Dinkes, Kemp, & Baum, 2009; Kupchik & Monahan, 2006). It is now common to find armed police officers, drug-sniffing dogs, surveillance cameras, and zero-tolerance policies in all types of schools and all areas of the United States. Existing research documents several problems with these new school discipline and security practices, including the increasing marginalization of poor students and youth of color (e.g., Noguera, 2003; Skiba et al., 2000), unnecessary denial of future educational opportunities due to suspension and expulsion (e.g., American Psychological Association Zero Tolerance Task Force, 2008; Fabelo et al., 2011), and increases in the numbers of students who are formally prosecuted in the juvenile and criminal justice systems (known as the “school-to-prison pipeline”; for example, Kim, Losen, & Hewitt, 2010; Na & Gottfredson, 2013; Wald & Losen, 2003). This body of research consistently finds large discrepancies in punishment rates between White youth and youth of color, where African American and Hispanic American students are far more likely than Whites to be punished, even when controlling for self-reported rates of misbehavior (American Psychological Association Zero Tolerance Task Force, 2008).
- Do Police Officers in Schools Really Make Them Safer? (2018)
While there are conflicting studies about the effectiveness of police in schools, Schindler says research shows they bring plenty of unintended consequences for students. He says that includes higher rate of suspensions, expulsions and arrests that funnel kids into the criminal justice system. That’s especially true, he says, in schools attended predominantly by students of color.
- Final Report of the Federal Commission on School Safety (2018)
A report on School Safety through the lens of the COPS program under the Trump administration.
- Focusing on School Safety After Parkland (2018)
The Heritage Foundation, as to be expected, does not believe in gun control but in arming teachers and installing a massive security presence in schools.
- Mass Shootings in America: Moving Beyond Newtown (2013)
The white students who perpetrated the massacre at Columbine High school apparently chose Hitler’s birthday for their attack. This article looks at a number of myths surrounding mass shootings and also asks the provocative question: If armed guards and armed teachers are indeed worthy strategies for protecting children, then what should schools do to protect the students before and after school? Expanding this approach would dictate providing weapons to coaches, athletic directors, and even bus drivers. How slippery do we want the slippery slope to be?
- Now is the Time: the President’s plan to protect our children and our communities by reducing gun violence (2013)
The Obama administration’s plan to fund 1,000 SRO’s.
- On the school beat: police officers based in English schools (2017)
The results of this British study clearly show that police officers are more likely to be based in schools with higher levels of pupils eligible for free school meals, that is, with a more disadvantaged population of pupils. Almost allschools where 50 or more percent of pupils are eligible for free school meals have an onsite police officer deployed there. The fact that the percentage of schools with a police officer increases as the percentage of pupils eligible for FSM increases indicates that this is not an accidental occurrence. None of the, albeit small, number of schools that have no pupils eligible for free school meals have an onsite officer. It has long been argued that the origins of mass compulsory schooling in Britain lay in attempts at social control, particularly of the children of the urban poor (Cunningham 2012; Rose 2000; Walkerdine 1992). Schools are more than enclosures for a certain sector of the population, as Andrew Hope writes: Schools are institutions of social control that seek to dictate, monitor and enforce ‘appropriate’ behavior. Historically, surveillance has played a central role in such processes. (2015a, 2) Schools are increasingly adopting diverse methods of electronic surveillance (Hope 2015a). Given the levels of electronic surveillance in place in many schools, Taylor (2012) claims that school pupils in the UK and the US are becoming the most surveilled subgroup of the whole population.
- Patrolling Public Schools: The Impact of Funding for School Police on Student Discipline and Long-Term Education Outcomes (2018)
The widespread use of police officers in public schools is a relatively recent development. While school police programs have gained popularity as a policy to protect students against rare but tragic school shooting events, in practice, these officers are often actively involved in the enforcement of school discipline. When school police officers, or school resource officers (SROs), are involved in the daily lives of students, they have the capability to alter student behavior, disciplinary consequences, attachment to school, and educational attainment. Though the potential consequences of school police interventions are large, there have been few evaluations of their efficacy. There is a large qualitative and ethnographic literature that documents the growth of harsh school sanctions policies and their disparate impact on low-income minority students (e.g. Nolan, 2011; Kupchik, 2010; Devine, 1996). This work has found that administrators’ and teachers’ roles in school discipline and classroom management are increasingly outsourced to SROs, and that SROs not only utilize their ability to arrest students for criminal offenses, but frequently participate in school discipline matters such as code of conduct violations.
- Policing Schools: Examining the Impact of Place Management Activities on School Violence (2015)
The present study examines whether the presence of school resource officers (SROs) and their level of involvement in place management activities are associated with higher or lower rates of school-based serious violence. This study uses data from the 2010 School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS) conducted by National Center for Educational Statistics. Propensity score matching is used to create a quasi-experimental design and isolate the influence of SROs and their level of involvement in place management activities on school-based serious violence. The analysis reveals that schools with a school resource officer are associated with higher rates of reported serious violence and those schools with SROs that participate in more place manager duties are also associated with higher rates of reported serious violence. These findings do not support the notion that SROs are acting as effective place managers and through this place management, reducing reported serious violence. Rather, it appears that the presences of a SRO and their execution of place manager duties is associated with an increase in the reporting of serious violence. Policy implications and limitations of the current research are also discussed. In other words, SRO’s don’t prevent violence but merely increase reports of it
- Preventing School Shootings: The Effectiveness of Safety Measures (2017)
The key policy issue, however, is whether SROs reduce school crime. To that point, few studies have examined the role of SROs in reducing crime in the school, with no study assessing the preventative capabilities of an SRO with mass school shootings (James & McCallion, 2013). Research testing the link between SROs and crime or victimization have yielded mixed results. […] With the current state of the research, the true effect of SROs remains inconclusive. Further, as Madfis (2016) explained, it is important to note that two of the deadliest school shootings — Columbine and Virginia Tech — were not deterred by the presence of armed police. In 1999, Columbine High School had both an armed SRO and an unarmed school security guard. During the shooting, one of the killers exchanged multiple rounds of gunfire with the SRO then proceeded to murder students in the library (Erickson, 2001). The morning of the tragedy at Virginia Tech, five officers plus the police chief were present on campus (TriData Division, System Planning Corporation, 2009). The killer at Virginia Tech was familiar with the police, having had a previous encounter with them five months prior to the shooting. All three killers involved in these two cases were well-aware of the armed officers present on their respective campuses, yet in neither instance did that deter them from carrying out their crime.
- Public Mass Shootings in the United States: Selected Implications for Federal Public Health and Safety Policy (2013)
Congressional Research Service’s analysis of COPS under the Obama Administration.
- Race, Poverty, and Exclusionary School Security: An Empirical Analysis of U.S. Elementary, Middle, and High Schools (2014)
As violence and crime within and around U.S. schools has drawn increased attention to school security, police, surveillance cameras, and other measures have grown commonplace at public schools. Social scientists commonly voice concern that exclusionary security measures are most common in schools attended by poor and non-White students, yet there is little empirical basis for assessing the extent of differential exposure, as we lack research on how exclusionary measures are distributed relative to school and student characteristics. To address this gap in the research, we use nationally representative school-level data from the School Survey on Crime and Safety to consider the security measures employed in elementary, middle, and high schools. Results indicate that while security measures are ubiquitous in U.S. high schools, those considered more exclusionary are concentrated in elementary, middle, and high schools attended by non-White and/or poorer students.
- Rampage School Shooters: A Typology (2014)
School shooters match Trump voters quite nicely: “A few of the common individual features included narcissism, bigotry, alienation, poor anger management, fascination with violence, low self-esteem, and a lack of empathy.”
- Relationships among school climate, school safety, and student achievement and well-being: a review of the literature (2015)
What fosters true safety and well-being in a school.
- Report of the National School Shield Task Force (2013)
This is the NRA’s proposal to arm teachers and promote SRO’s.
- School resource officers (SROs) and other school safety issues: Results from a state census of law enforcement executives and public school principals. South Carolina Law Enforcement Census 2013 (2013)
This is only useful as an example of how policy is often driven by what the Police want, rather than by using empirical data.
- School Resource Officers and Law Enforcement in Schools (2020)
The position of the National Assoc of Secondary School Principals on SRO’s is: love ’em.
- School Resource Officers: Law Enforcement Officers in Schools (2013)
In 2013 the Congressional Research Service was tasked with determining if additional SRO’s were warranted. It answered the question by saying that school students are quite safe, but “middle schools, city schools, and schools with a higher proportion of low-income students have higher rates of reported violent incidents, and schools with a higher proportion of low-income students had higher rates of reported serious violent incidents.” To the question of whether minority and low-income students would find their way quicker into the criminal justice system, the answer was “Research in this area is limited to a small number of studies, but these suggest that children in schools with SROs might be more likely to be arrested for low-level offenses. On the other hand, some studies indicate that SROs can deter students from committing assaults on campus as well as bringing weapons to school. Schools with SROs may also be more likely to report non-serious violent crimes (i.e., physical attack or fights without a weapon and threat of physical attack without a weapon) to the police than schools lacking SROs.”
- School Safety Technology in America: Current Use and Perceived Effectiveness (2003)
Between 1999 and 2001, the COPS program of the U.S. Department of Justice provided $567 million through the Cops in Schools program (CIS) to hire 4,900 SROs. Although this sounds like a large number of SROs, one must consider that there are more than 92,000 public schools in the United States (National Center for Education Statistics, 2002); therefore, there are simply not enough SROs to go around. Although there has been no large-scale systematic evaluation of this program, anecdotal evidence suggests that it is a successful collaboration. […] In the spring of 2002, COPS allocated another $121 million to hire more SROs. Though this appears to be a positive step toward improving school safety, it should be noted that each new SRO will cost the federal government approximately $125,000 (COPS, 2002). As such, only about 968 more SROs will be hired — far short of what is needed in our schools. […] It is not good public policy to continue to expand programs and invest resources in programs that are untested. This mistake has been made time and again with unsatisfactory results (e.g., zero-tolerance policies and the widespread installation of complicated school security technology systems). Thus, the efficacy of individual SRO programs in each school district should be measured to ensure that the programs actually enhance school safety and are not just another “cosmetic response” to school violence.
- School Suspensions and Adverse Experiences in Adulthood (2017)
During the 1980s and early 1990s, violence and drugs in American schools emerged as a policy priority. The available statistics and anecdotal evidence suggested that these problems were common in American schools, particularly those in poor, urban settings (Midlarskey & Klain, 2005; Skiba,2013). In response, the federal government passed two key pieces of legislation aimed at addressing the problem. The first piece of legislation, the Gun Free Schools Act of 1995, made education funding contingent on the adoption of zero tolerance policies that mandated the expulsion of students who brought weapons on school property. Following its enactment, zero tolerance policies spread rapidly throughout the country (Stinchcomb, Bazemore, & Riestenberg, 2006). States and school districts often expanded the scope of their zero tolerance policies beyond weapons offenses to include drug offenses, interpersonal violence, and more minor misbehavior. Not surprisingly, the spread of zero tolerance policies led to a significant increase in suspensions and expulsions (Skibaet al., 2014). The second piece of legislation, the Violent Crime Control and Enforcement Act of 1994, provided support and funding for school resource officer programs through the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. School districts received funding to contract with local police departments to place trained police officers in schools. These officers respond to incidents of student misbehavior, such as breaking up fights in the hallways, and arrest students accused of criminal behavior, thus expanding the potential disciplinary consequences facing students. Importantly, arrests are not mutually exclusive of school disciplinary responses, so students often face suspensions or expulsions in addition to delinquency or criminal charges (Kupchik, 2010). Thus, just as schools increasingly turned to suspensions and expulsions, they also integrated the justice system into their disciplinary responses to student misbehavior. In addition to stationing school resource officers in their hallways, Americans chools also introduced other heightened security measures. These measures included security cameras, random locker and personal property searches, identification cards, metal detectors, and strictly controlled school entrance and exit procedures (Hirschfield, 2008). It is reasonable to assume that these measures contributed to the expanded use of exclusionary school discipline punishments, as they made it more likely for students to be caught violating school rules, mandated strong disciplinary responses to relatively innocuous behavior (such as talking back or acting disorderly), and provided additional strict rules for students to violate (such as requiring students to always carry their identification cards) (Lyons & Drew, 2006). Not surprisingly, the number of suspensions and in-school arrests grew as the punitive school discipline trend became entrenched (see, e.g. Losen, 2011; New York Civil Liberties Union, 2013; Skiba et al., 2014). More than three million students are suspended each year in the United States (see Losen, Hodson, Keith, Morrison, & Belway, 2015). Data also suggest that the use of other exclusionary actions are more common now than they were two decades ago, including arrests in school (e.g. Advancement Project, 2005; Blue Ribbon Commission on School Discipline, 2007; Fields & Emshwiller, 2014; Krezmien, Leone, Zablocki, & Wells, 2010). Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent to Adult Health, we analyze whether being suspended from school relates to the likelihood of students experiencing a number of adverse events and outcomes when they are adults. We find that being suspended increases the likelihood that a student will experience criminal victimization, criminal involvement, and incarceration years later, as adults.
- School-Based Policing in Maine: A study on School Resource Officers in Maine’s public schools (2019)
While school-based policing has become commonplace at campuses across the country, there is no centralized or continuous tracking of how many schools use SROs, no national governance of SROs’ roles and training requirements, and only ad hoc evaluation of their effectiveness in improving school safety. Local law enforcement agencies deploying SROs are not required to register with any national database, and school systems are not required to report how many SROs they use. The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) estimates there are between 14,000 and 20,000 SROs deployed in schools nationwide. The National Center for Education Statistics found that 42% of all public schools in 2015-16 employed at least one full-time or part-time SRO, and that 94.4% of public high schools with enrollment of at least 1,000 students maintained a law enforcement presence for security enforcement and patrol. Similarly in Maine, neither schools nor police departments have been required to report whether they deploy SROs.
- The Comprehensive School Safety Initiative: 2015 Report to Congress (2015)
Schools have adopted a number of approaches for increasing safety, including the use of controlled access to buildings, security cameras, metal detectors, and the placement of school resource officers (SROs). Using SROs, generally sworn law enforcement officers, is a costly and widely used practice: the 2009-2010 School Survey on Crime and Safety estimated that 43 percent of public schools have at least one SRO present at least once a week. However, few rigorous studies have evaluated the effectiveness of SROs, including whether there are possible unintended consequences that may harm students, such as increased arrests for disorderly conduct (which might otherwise be handled by a school administrator) or exclusionary disciplinary practices (such as suspensions and expulsions) that disproportionately affect minority youth and youth with disabilities.
- The Cost of Arming Schools: The Price of Stopping a Bad Guy with a Gun (2013)
The common denominator of most school shootings is the availability of semi-automatic weapons. The price of implementing the NRA’s proposal (which does not involve controlling semi-automatics) to place an armed security guard in every school building in the nation is nearly $13 billion a year (2013 dollars). The opportunity cost to taxpayers for fully protected schools can reach $23 billion. The cost per student approaches $500 and would take up half of federal spending on elementary and secondary education if paid for by the federal government. Is this the cost of protecting schools? Or, is it just one cost for permitting unlimited access to semi-automatic weapons and large capacity ammunition clips and preventing the potential for mass murder in our schools?
- The Growing Concerns Regarding School Resource Officers (2018)
Some harsh statistics on how SRO’s and zero-tolerance policies turn students into life-long criminals.
- The Menace of School Shootings in America (2018)
While the murders of children by semi-automatic weapon was what was keeping America up at night, American politicians decided that fighting terror, profiling potential perpetrators, outfitting school and office in high-tech security gear, and increasing police presence in schools was what we needed – a beefed-up police state.
- The Nature of Crime by School Resource Officers: Implications for SRO Program (2014)
a little-considered look at the harms and crimes SRO’s can commit as authority figures while on school property, although they do not report to school administration. Rapes and accidental sidearm firings are the least of our worries.
- The New American School: preparation for post-industrial discipline (2006)
We take as a starting point the socializing effects of schools to analyze armed police officers and technological surveillance systems on school campuses, and relate these new social control strategies to the social relations engendered by mass incarceration and post-industrialization. In contrast to schools in the early twentieth century, which prepared youth for dependable factory labor, contemporary schools prepare youth for volatile labor markets and uncertain service sector employment. The modern world that embraces students is marked by the demise of the welfare state, privatization of social services and entrepreneurial approaches to modern social problems, including private for-profit prisons and mass incarceration of over two million people (in the United States alone). Public institutions and public life are subjected to ongoing processes of globalization, militarization and corporatization, altering how citizens participate in politics and react to social problems, as well as how states control citizens in places like schools (Saltman & Gabbard, 2003). We argue that these larger forces are mediated by public education and manifested as police and surveillance presence at school sites, such that students are exposed to social control forces that simultaneously create and are produced by conditions of mass incarceration and post-industrialization.
- The Presence of School Resource Officers (SROs) in America’s Schools (2020)
Similar to the declines in national crime rates in recent decades, school-basedoffenses have also been steadily falling. As of 2017, the National Center for Education Statistics reports that victimization, theft, and violent crimes are at a multi-decade low. In the 2015–2016 school year, there were 18 homicides at schools, accounting for 1.2 percent of all youth homicides. Despite the rarity of serious violence in schools, a major policy argument in favor of SROs has been the claim that they are needed to respond to active shooter situations. Those events remain extremely rare, and in 2015-2016 accounted for 43 deaths on school property, including 10 deaths by suicide. This is not to minimize the importance of efforts to respond to school shootings, but there are little data supporting the efficacy of SROs in preventing these rare events.
- The prevalence of police officers in US schools (2018)
Students attending high schools that have substantial shares of black or Hispanic students attend schools with a police officer at higher rates than students attending schools with few black and Hispanic students.
- The school resource officer perspective: examining crime, violence, law enforcement, and education on public high school campuses (2012)
Can SRO’s successfully provide the mentoring, teaching, and community-building that proponents claim to be co-responsibilities of the job? Through interviews we were able to see how SROs are symbolic to theories on law enforcement, police, and crime. As it was previously noted, SROs display some of the same characteristics representative of traditional police culture. Examples include SROs discussing ways in which they maintain control, authority, and an edge on students paying particular attention and awareness to gangs and drug activity. There were also numerous times when the SROs reinforced their legitimized power over students, shared instances in which they had to use aggressive and punitive action, or discussed the great differences that lie between police and non-police. Although we are nowhere close to being able to define a distinct police subculture amongst SROs, the substantial differences in settings and experiences between them (SROs and other law enforcement) which impact their beliefs and behaviors, are evident. On the surface many elements of traditional police culture seem problematic to the successful functioning of our public education system. However even though some of the characteristics of traditional police culture were found amongst this small sample of SROs, the extent to which all SROs display the same culture is unclear.
- The School-Security Industry Is Cashing In Big on Public Fears of Mass Shootings (2016)
Reality check. School shootings aren’t quite the national epidemic the media depicts. Far more children and young adults are killed on the impoverished streets of America’s large cities every year. By several orders of magnitude, far more kids die each year in car crashes or drowning accidents—or from asthma. And far more young lives are lost to a host of other diseases closely correlated with poverty. There are approximately 55 million K–12 students in America and roughly 3.5 million adults employed as teachers. There are also millions of support staff – janitors, nurses, cooks, after-school-program providers, and so on. Even in the deadliest years, the chance of a student or adult being killed at school is roughly one in a million. By contrast, roughly five out of every 100,000 American residents are murdered each year. Extrapolating from this, schools are somewhere in the region of 50 times safer than society overall. But lately, America’s school-security fetish has reached a whole new level of bizarre. In the wake of the December 2012 Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, one company after another has rushed to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the epidemic of fear that emerged in response to school violence, and to exploit the emotional vulnerabilities of terrified parents. As a result, a huge number of utterly inane products have entered the market.
- Threat Assessment for School Administrators and Crisis Teams (2020)
The National Association of School Psychologists is not not wild about SRO’s and encourages schools to weigh whether they legitimately need them. If so, SRO’s are not to be used for zero-tolerance discipline or in positions a “civilian” could fill. However, SRO’s are preferable to armed guards, in their view.
- Understanding School Rampage Shooters: Implications for Police Use of Force (2019)
This study looked at a number of factors and took a generally positive view of SRO’s, as 26.9% of all shooters were stopped by police. However, it concedes that civilians do a much better job of terminating school rampages. Knox found that “Police intervention, however, was not the winner with respect to saving lives: intervention by unarmed citizens was. Unarmed citizens stopped 23 (39.5%) shooters, as many as stopped their rampages by committing suicide. However, when unarmed citizens intervened, the shooters killed an average of only one person. When school rampage shooters ended their rampages voluntarily or by firearm malfunction or ammunition depletion, they killed six times as many people on average as did shooters who were stopped by the intervention of unarmed citizens.”
- What Do We Know About the Effects of School-Based Law Enforcement on School Safety? (2018)
Are SRO’s effective in preventing school shootings? “There is insufficient evidence for drawing a decisive conclusion about the overall effectiveness of non-educational, school-based law enforcement programs (Petrosino et al., forthcoming; Petrosino et al., 2012; Gonzalez, Jetelina, & Jennings, 2016; James & McCallion, 2013; Raymond, 2010).” OK. Forget efficacy. Do students feel safer with SRO’s? “There is no conclusive evidence that the presence of school-based law enforcement has a positive effect on students’ perceptions of safety in schools. In their review of 12 quasi-experimental studies, Petrosino and colleagues (forthcoming) found that school-based law enforcement is not associated with statistically significant changes in students’ perceptions of safety at school.”