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BACK OF BOOK -WETZEL – SROs


February 12, 2015
By Tom Wetzel

633 words – MR

School resource officers can help form the future

by Tom Wetzel

Police officers can have a long term influence on primary grade school children in their imprinting years, even changing the minds of those we now have trouble reaching.

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Reaching out to them is vital and a key to doing so is for police to have an active partnership with school systems. Many agencies need to expand the role of the school resource officer (SRO), giving them a chance to spend increased time with students and actively provide instruction. In doing so, officers can teach them valuable safety lessons while developing the trust which is critical to long term success in keeping our neighborhoods safe places to live and thrive.

The following is a suggested schedule for elementary school SROs which allows them to not only help protect students but also teach them how to stay safe.

{Morning bell/First period}

The officer can start by watching the parking lot and school grounds as students begin arriving prior, monitoring the area for suspicious persons or unusual behavior and making sure the school is secure when classes begin. While students are in first period, the officer can address any pending matters or paperwork that needs to be completed.

{Second period}

The SRO can teach a class on “stranger danger” and address traffic safety. Who better to warn students about bad people and dangerous situations than a cop? Many children are already familiar with the role officers have with traffic safety from participating in children’s safety village programs.

{Third period}

The SRO can address Internet safety through such programs as the children’s on-line protection program. Student’s use of a computer and the Internet for school work is very common now and kids are very savvy about computers but, due to their age, are naive about the dangers they may encounter.

{Lunch}

Officers can use this time to monitor the cafeteria and school grounds for suspicious persons or activity.

{Fourth period}

Address bullying and gang avoidance, which are serious concerns for kids and families everywhere. SROs can instill in children early on that bullying is wrong. Interacting with them may allow the SRO to recognize possible bullying situations within the student body. Officers can also reinforce how participating in a gang leads to criminal activity and is ultimately an empty pursuit.

{Fifth period}

The SRO can address the dangers of drug use. Because drugs have caused so much suffering, including destroying families, it is imperative that a major effort be made to instill the fear and knowledge necessary to help kids steer clear of this corrosion.

{Sixth period}

The SRO would use this last period to address manners and conflict resolution as well as home safety risk management. Kids need to learn how to behave and resolve issues without violence. This time also allows an officer to teach kids how to act when interacting with police – an important topic of concern right now.

The SRO can also warn students about all the risks they may encounter in their own home, whether unsecured weapons or dangerous chemicals.

{Last class/Closing bell}

While students are in their last class, the SRO can grade papers and check homework. Prior to the closing bell ringing, the officer can check the school grounds for suspicious persons or activity and then monitor the area while students leave.

{Special assignment}

This type of assignment would allow a police officer to have a major impact on building and developing trust within their community. Not only would it have a long term impact for the officers and those they serve, it may prevent or reduce suspicion and distrust of police and help people recognize the spiritual calling that officers have in being the “good guys” who try to stop bad people.


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