I was glad to see Sarah Ellis’ Nov. 1 article, “Resource officers: taking a closer look.” One question that needs answering in the wake of the Spring Valley High School incident is whether school resource officers increase safety at schools.
According to a 2013 Congressional Research Service report, the answer is that we don’t know. The report states that “the body of research on the effectiveness of SRO programs is noticeably limited, and the research that is available draws conflicting conclusions about whether SRO programs are effective at reducing school violence. In addition, the body of research on the effectiveness of SROs does not address whether their presence in schools has deterred mass shootings.”
However, the report does indicate that these programs have unintended, negative consequences for students, suggesting that they “might result in more children being involved in the criminal justice system for relatively minor offenses, and this, in turn, can result in other negative consequences, such as higher rates of suspension or a greater likelihood of dropping-out of school.”
Whether the officer and administration at Spring Valley appropriately handled the uncooperative student is an important matter. However, more fundamental questions about school resource officers need to be addressed.