The Impact of School Resource Officers on Student and Faculty Perceptions of Safety and the Educational Experience: A Preliminary Evaluation of Spokane's School Resource Officer Program

Nicholas P. Lovrich, Washington State University
Michael J. Gaffney, Washington State University
Keith Cummings, Spokane Police Department

More and more jurisdictions in America are adopting a strategy of placing police officers in schools. Often acting under a joint enterprise involving both law enforcement and schools, these School Resource Officers serve multiple functions: Educating youth on matters dealing with decision making, crime, drugs, and interactions with police; providing a resource and example in the school setting for youth in need of role models and/or informal counseling; and, fulfilling a law-enforcement role in the school setting. This paper details the preliminary findings of a study of the role and impact of School Resource Officers in the City of Spokane, Washington. Both students and adults connected with schools across all grade levels were surveyed as part of an evaluation of this program. Important observations from the results of these surveys offer insights into how the three roles identified above are balanced, and on the impact which the presence of School Resource Officers have on students and faculty/staff. The role which school-related socio-economic factors play in determining the balance of SRO functions is also addressed.

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Updated 05/20/2006