By Bob Katzen
This bill would promote local control, increased funding and effective training of School Resource Officers (SROs). These officers are police officers and other law-enforcement officers who work directly in schools and provide law enforcement and security services to all public-school students.
Supporters said studies show that students who feel safe in school are more focused in class, have higher academic achievement and have fewer absences
Provisions include creation of an SRO Training Program with the focus on topics including adolescent development, school building security and conflict resolution; strict limits on SRO involvement in traditional school discipline issues, including non-violent disruptive behavior; and an increase in some motor vehicle violations in order to increase funding of SROs which is totally funded out of existing fines.
“This bill clarifies local agreements between schools and police, funds critical SRO training, and promotes a positive school environment,” said House sponsor Rep. Jim Cantwell (D-Marshfield). “We entrust our SROs with securing the safety of our children and schools, and so we have a duty to provide these officers with the tools they need to be successful.”
Ben Thomas, a legislative aide to Cantwell, is the co-author of a national report “School Resource Officers: Steps to Effective School-based Law Enforcement,” on which Cantwell’s bill is based.
“School Resource Officer (SRO) programs that are implemented and sustained through an organized and comprehensive process can help prevent school-based violence, connect at-risk students to needed services, divert youth from juvenile court; and create safe, secure and peaceful school environments,” concluded the report.