- An estimated 14,000 School Resource Officers are currently employed in U.S. schools, and research shows students are five times more likely to be arrested for disorderly conduct when SROs are present.
- SROs operate differently across states and districts as far as instructions and mandates, final say on discipline, and specific training for working with students.
- Large urban districts continue to lead the way toward reform, including Furr High School in Houston, which used to suspend 30 students a day for dress code and other minor infractions, but has improved since re-training police to act as mentors instead of disciplinarians.
Throughout the United States, there are examples of well-trained police and SROs helping schools instead of hindering them. Proper training is essential, because students and teenagers behave and make decisions in ways that are different from adults. Any district with an SRO needs to keep in mind that individual's unique law enforcement background, record, and history, making sure they are thoroughly vetted and an appropriate candidate to work with and be around kids and teens.
Because the statistics related to SROs show that more students are harshly disciplined in their presence, schools also need to pay very close attention whether an SRO is actually needed. If eliminating a position helps prevent students from being funneled down the school-to-prison pipeline, districts should weigh the benefits versus the disadvantages, as the consequences for many kids are grave.
California is currently leading the way in showing how to dismantle the pipeline with success. It has brought its overall the number of suspensions down to 709,580 in the 2011-2012 school year from a total of 503,101 in 2013-2014. Other states are implementing legislative solutions that re-examine the criminalization of student behavior.