After the Newtown massacre, the NRA called for armed police in every public school in America. That didn’t happen. But hundreds if not thousands of schools (including Newtown) responded unilaterally. There are now Student Resource Officers (SROs) throughout America, not just in “troubled” schools. Regular readers will recall that I opposed this move on several grounds. For one thing, it’s a tactical mistake . . .

SROs are an obvious “shoot me first” target for a spree killer or terrorist. As our simulation of the Sandy Hook spree killing demonstrated, even when an identifiable armed defender knows an attack was imminent, an active shooter can remove them from the equation without delay. It’s far better to have armed teachers, administrators or staff who can’t be singled-out by an armed invader or invaders.

Plural. The chances of an SRO stopping multiple attackers are lower still. Given what happened in Columbine, given the horror at Belsen (where more than a dozen terrorists murdered 385 people), it’s foolish to think that future school attacks will necessarily resemble Adam Lanza’s lone wolf attack on the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Simply put, the more unidentifiable armed defenders in any one school, the better.

For another thing, Student Resource Officers are a problem waiting to happen. Yes, I know: the vast majority of these on-site trained police are honest, upright individuals who, no doubt, help students outside their active shooter guard duty. But the fact of the matter is that the odds that an SRO will be needed in any one school can be rounded down to zero. Which means that you have a lot of police officers in schools with nothing to do.

Predictably, they find things to do. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that SROs can be a serious threat to student safety. Here are two recent examples from policemisconduct.net (video of the first incident above):

Louisville, KY: An officer who worked as an SRO at a middle school was arrested for assaulting two 13-year-old students. Both incidents were caught on video. He appears to punch one in the face, with injuries that sent the student to the hospital. In a separate incident, he appears to put another student in a choke hold that rendered him unconscious. The officer cuffed him and took him home without medical treatment and without telling the boy’s parents what happened. According to the news report, the student suffered brain damage from the choke-hold incident. ow.ly/ItJPB

Bothell, Washington: An officer working as an SRO at a high school was charged with sexual misconduct for having a sexual relationship with a then-17-year-old student. ow.ly/Iua73

Here’s are three more SRO sexual misconduct reports from last year:

Nassau County, Florida: A deputy who recently served as a school resource officer was fired from the department following his arrest. He faces sexual battery and lewd and lascivious charges in connection with an incident with a student. He allegedly confessed he had a sexual relationship with a teenager. ow.ly/m6Kgb

Conroe, Texas: A police sergeant was charged with having an improper sexual relationship with a student. “The law clearly states that sexual relationships are prohibited between employees of educational facilities, like high schools, and their students,” said the DA. ow.ly/i3OfY

Hampton County, South Carolina: A deputy was indicted on one count of criminal sexual conduct with a minor between 11 and 14, committing a lewd act on a minor, and misconduct in public office. The incidents occurred while he was working as a school resource officer. . ow.ly/i2XHi

Needless to say, these are incidents that have seen the light of day. I don’t think it unfair to assume that there have been many more crimes committed by SROs that have not made the news, either because they were never reported or hushed up and settled behind closed doors. Is the possibility of a fatal negligent discharge by an armed school staff member greater than the possibility that an SRO will victimize students? Show me one example of the former to compare with numerous examples of the latter.

You could say that we could reduce or eliminate these unintended consequences by making sure there’s someone policing the police in our schools. [The National Association of School Resource Officers’ website has nothing to say on the matter.] You could also argue that the damage done by “rogue” SROs is the price we pay for the security and/or deterrence that the clean-living majority provide against active shooters. But that begs the question posed above: what security do SROs really provide? Do we need them?

There are schools where SROs deal with a lot more than the possibility of active shooters. Schools where SROs arrest drug dealers, stop bullying, prevent gang warfare and/or keep the peace. There are also schools that have managed to control or eliminate these issues without the expense, cultural clash and yes, danger of on-site SROs. As for the SROs’ educational value (touted by their National Association), that work can be done during occasional visits. And I repeat: an SRO is not the best way to defend against spree killers or terrorists.

When it comes to this vital mission, there’s no getting around the fact that multiple armed school staff are not only the best method for defending against violent attack, they are the only effective method for defending against violent attack – until armed police respond. Some schools have acknowledged the truth of that statement and acted accordingly. Most have not. Unfortunately, it’s only a matter of time before these schools see the error of their ways. A lesson that some poor parents will pay for with their children’s blood.

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86 Responses to Why Student Resource Officers Are a Bad Idea

  1. “For one thing, it’s a tactical mistake . . . SROs are an obvious “shoot me first” target for a spree killer or terrorist”

    And that’s only if the spree killer or terrorist is a moron.

    At my kids’ elementary school, a deputy is there part time, broadcasts arrival and departure times, and uses a marked Sheriff Dept. vehicle.

    The non-moron spree killer or terrorist would merely listen to a scanner for a few days to determine the pattern. Then, on his planned day of mayhem, do a drive by to ensure there are no surprise vehicles in the parking lot. Once such minimal prep is taken care of, our spree killer or terrorist has at least 5 minutes inside the school to do what he will.

  2. Hmm, I’m of two (or more, apparently) minds on this… article. First I want to say that while an SRO isn’t the best solution (maybe not even second or third best), it is SOMETHING. It is at least a minimal attempt at protecting innocent, disarmed, lives. But then I want to take issue with the hand-wringing “Oh, but they’ll molest our children!” tone the article took by saying, “Well perhaps, yeah people suck. What’s the other option?” Then I want to facepalm for forgetting that the whole point is “Arm Staff Anonymously!” Carry on…

    • The SRO is not free. Splitting up his salary to raise the pay by $100/month for each teacher who comes to school armed each day will get FAR more security without increasing molesting/bullying/brain damage/etc danger. Seems like a no-brainer, except that teachers are notoriously anti-gun. Bet that would change instantly for $100/month.

      Of course, in 10 years schools would try to quit the extra pay, because there had not even been an attempt to shoot up a school for 10 years, armed teachers had nothing to do with it, it was the unicorns and rainbows, let’s go back o the way it was when we had a shooting a couple times a year.

  3. RF, once again you are letting your anti-police bias show. SROs are a good thing. Condemning SROs for a few bad apples is, well, like condemning CCWers because of a few bad apples. Or condemning all teachers because a few have taken sexual advantage of students. Hardly a brilliant thing RF. It is the same argument the mouth breathing Left uses against CCWers/POTG. Come on.

    I do not believe the total onus should be on SROs or responding police to deal with an active shooter. I believe both SROs and armed and capable teachers/administrators, etc. are force multipliers. And…no one ever said an SRO has to be uniformed and visible as the “first target” of a spree killer. And there are plenty of good things for SROs to be doing rather than standing around waiting to be shot. It comes down to how they are employed.

    • SROs are a good thing. Unless they’re not. They’re a poor substitute – and a substitute they are – for more effective armed self-defense (armed teachers and staff). And SOME SROs are a danger in and of themselves. Why take that risk if it doesn’t make sense anyway?

  4. I can’t agree. I do see the same limitation of SROs, but I chalk that up with an SRO program not done well, not a negation of the idea. Here are my thoughts:

    1. I don’t see this as an either/or. I think SROs AND armed teachers have their place. But I don’t think most teachers are well-oriented to that role and if there is a shooter and they are armed, I think they should stay with their class and protect them.
    2. It’s been shown that active shooters tend to avoid the possibility of armed resistance, even if they have superior firepower. The college shooter in CA did, as did the theater shooter in CO.Deterrence should be considered as well as tactics.
    3. Here’s where I would have an SRO: Behind bullet proof glass at the entrance to the school, buzzing people in though locked doors during school hours. If a shooter with a long gun approaches, the SRO is behind cover, with an SBR and also the shooter can’t get in the door. He should also be in plain clothes and wearing a vest.SROs could rotate the schools they work in to be less identifiable to a shooter. There could also be multiple SROs.
    4. The cases of SRO misconduct are irrelevant. First, it is very few cases, Second, it speaks to bad background checking and training, which can be corrected. Third, you get the same thing from a small percentage of teachers, cops, clergy, etc. That doesn’t negate any of those concepts.
    5. You are talking out of both sides when you say “when an identifiable armed defender knows an attack was imminent, an active shooter can remove them from the equation without delay.” If that is true of SROs, it’s true of teachers also. If the kid is a student, he knows which teachers are armed and he takes them out one at a time. If he is not student, he just going to shoot ever teacher he sees, just in case. Do you really think teachers are going to be able to spontaneously organize like a SWAT team and carry out squad tactics on the fly? I don’t think so.

    • 1. It’s not an either or either or. Armed teachers can stay in their class and protect students (the fatal funnel ain’t no metaphor) OR they can search and destroy the shooter. The more armed teachers the less searching required.

      2. Counting on an active shooter’s propensity for stopping violence at first contact with armed opposition is a foolish mistake. Counting on them to only prey on schools without an SRO is also a mistake. Yes, SROs are a deterrent, but they’re also a VISIBLE target. If an attacker knows he has one armed defender and can ID that defender quickly and easily, it’s not as much of a deterrent as several unidentified armed defenders. And if the presence of an SRO is preventing the establishment of armed teachers (“we don’t need them, we have an SRO”), it’s a bad thing.

      3. I like your plan of physical security (as recommended in detail by the NRA’s Task Force), but most schools have multiple entrances and exits. And can’t afford multiple SROs. Or bullet resistant glass. Lest we forget, Lanza shot his way into Sandy Hook.

      4. The cases of SRO misconduct are irrelevant – unless it’s your child who’s beaten or sexually assaulted by an SRO. The article acknowledged the fact that most SROs are great people. But we must engage in risk analysis. Is the threat of an active shooter greater than the threat of a rogue SRO? And then you should factor in the idea that they aren’t necessary or particularly effective for active shooter/terrorist defense – if you have armed teachers and/or staff.

      5. You underestimate the resolve of teachers defending innocent life. You overestimate the tactics needed to take out bad guys. You also assume that the active shooter/terorrist/active shooters/terrorist will be students from that school. The Columbine killers were. Lanza wasn’t. As far as IDing teachers who carry, concealed means concealed.

      • While I agree with the idea of armed teachers, what was disturbing about this post in general was the tone that police are these bad social misfits that go around molesting children based off of two incidents. With that same mindset, I say BAN TEACHERS! The number of sex assaults and unlawful sexual contacts between students and teachers is significantly higher than these few rogue SRO’s. Therefore, based on the same premise, teachers shouldn’t be carrying guns because they increase risk to students.

        The SRO’s with the agency that used to employ me did a tremendous job working with the students. My county had one SRO per high school, and they were also each assigned several elementary schools. Unfortunately, most problems start in the home, and the bigger question in all of this should be, “Where are the parents?” I would highly encourage doing several ride-a-longs with some SRO’s to see what they “actually” do. At the agency I was with, the SRO position required 3+ years of patrol experience and was a position that they applied for. These aren’t the people that “just couldn’t make it,” so to speak, on patrol. I hate to say it, but the general tone of this article seemed to imply that.

        I personally do believe the SRO position is a good role, and I also believe in arming teachers. You state in your article, “But the fact of the matter is that the odds that an SRO will be needed in any one school can be rounded down to zero.” Yet, in 2013, locally in my area, we had the Arapahoe High School shooting (http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/14/us/colorado-school-shooting/index.html). In the final reports, once all the facts came out, it WAS an SRO that stopped the shooter. The SRO, an unarmed security officer, and two school administrators aggressively went towards the shooter. Once the SRO made contact with the shooter in the hallway, and the shooter realized a “good guy with a gun” was pointing a gun at him and about to take him out, the shooter ducked around the corner an blew his head off with his own shotgun.

        I was with an agency in Colorado for many years and am now in private enterprise in a completely different field. I’d be willing to talk to you off of the public forum here and just provide a few discussion points. What concerns me is this general “lumping together” of the <1% of rogue cops out there to create this "anti-police" tone on these arguments. It is similar to what the left does to present anti-gun arguments and take away our rights. It is also similar to the "race baiting" that the highest executive office of the country (as well as the US Attorney General, a particular state governor, and a particular mayor) did right after Ferguson.

        The office of the sheriff is constitutional and was set up by our founding fathers. Sir Robert Peel, the founder of modern policing said it best, "The Police are the Public, and the Public are the Police." There is a law enforcement blogger I have followed for years, and he wrote an excellent article on this point: http://thelawdogfiles.blogspot.com/2008/04/police-are-public-and-public-are-police.html. This principle is something that was presented on day one of my academy over a decade ago and needs to be reiterated over an over again to all citizens serving in law enforcement. On the same token, it's unfair to "race bait" (or in this case, "anti-police bait") just to try to make a point.

        I heard a commentator years ago make this statement, "I always prefer clarity to agreement," and I believe that applies here.

      • Well again, concealed should mean concealed for SROs also. Plain clothes, with a vest.

        I also think there should not be multiple, normal entrances/exits to a school. There should be plenty of alarmed fire exits, but no unsupervised entrances. My gas station can afford bullet proof glass for it cashiers and schools waste money on all kinds of stuff. If they want bullet proof glass and strong doors, they can find a way to get them.

        Yes, I do underestimate the resolve of teachers to defend innocent life. From what I’ve read, I have long underestimated teachers’ abilities to pass basic literacy tests. Also, teachers will eventually demand more money for the armed role and it’s only fair they should get it. As to the expense of SROs, I would volunteer to take time off work to attend training and do one day a week to be an SRO at my grandkids’ school. When I’m retired, I’d do it full time. I bet I’m not alone. No expense.

        • I also think there should not be multiple, normal entrances/exits to a school. There should be plenty of alarmed fire exits, but no unsupervised entrances.

          Unfortunately (?), that’s not practical in many areas.

          Where I live now, it might work. The schools my kids do/will attend all have a single building for classrooms, offices, cafeteria, etc., and entrances can be controlled.

          However, in the areas where my wife and I grew up, every school has several buildings (e.g. my elementary school had 24 classrooms spread across 8 buildings). All classrooms have exterior doors and many windows. Since there is no air conditioning, the windows are often opened for ventilation. Students are moving between buildings all the time. The elementary, middle / junior high, and high schools we attended are bounded by houses, residential streets, and public parks. There is no plausible way to keep people off campus. And once someone is on campus, there is no way to keep him away from students.

    • There’s already a set up like that here and there, John… called prisons. Why do you think it is a good idea to make “schools” even more like prisons than they already are?

      The spree killer is a very unlikely risk in most government schools. Unfortunately, the children are daily being indoctrinated into rabid socialism, and deliberately conditioned not to think for themselves, not to think critically, and are more and more being drugged and browbeaten into mindless gender neutrality/phsychosis. This is a far more serious danger to them in the long run, no matter who is armed or why.

      There are alternatives. People who understand this and want to protect their children from such horrors are finding and using them.

      • And arming the staff isn’t the solution, either, precisely because most of the staff are already victims of the mental conditioning. Either the parents take charge of their own children and hold the schools accountable for the insane actions their commit on a daily basis, or remove the children from that environment, which will amount to withholding funding from the schools, are the only two things that stand a chance. So long as school districts are prisons, the kids will act like prisoners, and the problems will get worse. Bottom line. Continuing these already failed policies, and expecting a different result, is Einstein’s definition of insanity.

        • Then all new staff, fire anybody who can’t get with the program of protecting our children.

        • Now THAT is great idea. Let’s get rid of the idiots that have made our schools into prisons, and return some sanity to the system. That WILL work. To stop doing the same old failed policies, and go back to what has worked over and over is the only thing that will.
          We don’t even need to change the staffs, just the admins at the top, who’s vested interest is in following the insane dictates from DC all the time. That’s the root of the insanity, and that’s what needs to change. Instead we get “common core”, simply a worse version of the same old, same old….
          One cannot kill a tree by picking off the leaves one at a time. They grow back faster than you can pick. One needs to go for the root to succeed. OFC, that requires first identifying the root of the problem….

    • There are lots of valid arguments against your suggestions, the easiest one being we don’t really want our schools to resemble prisons quite so much! Concealed is concealed, the students should have no idea which teachers are armed, and if they find out it should be that ALL staff is armed, there is no one to shoot “first”. And this does not introduce a new person to molest anybody.

  5. There are a couple of main problems with school resource officers.
    1. They are largely a waste of money. We get little benefit, and they cost a lot. The odds of being needed in any given school is small. Police resources are better used for normal police work.
    2. They are largely security theater intended to make people “feel safe”. I was told this by the retired state trooper/swat team officer who taught my defensive handgun course. His view was that all responsible citizens should always be armed.
    3. Allowing school faculty and staff (as well as any parents present) to keep and bear arms on school property is the only logical and responsible answer. An armed terrorist can easily take out one SRO. (He didn’t seem to help much at Columbine.) It is a little harder for them to take out an armed principal, math teacher, lunchroom lady, janitor, bus driver, history teacher, a mom, a dad, and a librarian.

    A couple weeks ago, I was in picking up a new shotgun. There was a school principal at the gun counter at the time. He was a gun noob, and was buying a Glock to begin carrying at school (which he can in our state depending on district policy). I was glad to hear it. The kids at his school will be a little bit safer now. Hopefully more educators will follow suit.

    • My guess would be you could get a marginal/useless SRO (say, 65 years old, 300 lbs, half blind and deaf) for $50K a year, 40 hours a week. I will bet that you can get a huge number of armed teacher for $1200-1800 a year in additional earnings, especially when they find out the odds of ever being attacked. Arguments of cops pro and con deliberately ignore the damn COST.

      • And the best part is nobody needs to order that done. All it would take is the system offers the 100/month(or whatever amount) bonus to any teacher that wishes to volunteer. As you stated, I’ll bet you’d get more volunteers for that bonus than you could afford. Almost everybody would want it. Who wouldn’t want to get paid extra to be safer in the workplace that they’ve already chosen anyway? I’ll bet even a lot of hoplophobes would be able to set their irrational fears aside for a bonus! So instead of one old and blind retiree, you could have 41 armed teachers for the same cost. Even a mental defective has to now that 41 armed citizens will be much more effective than one retiree! Its a no brainer. All it would take is for the law to get out of the way of common sense. Nothing else required.

  6. Had a SRO attacked from behind with a baseball bat here in Fresno some years ago, the officer ended up going for his back up piece and killing the student. I remember wondering if the student was intending on taking the officer’s weapon and using it on others, luckily we will never know. But yeah, SRO’s are just feel good security, like the TSA.

    http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/253371

  7. Is an armed SRO a good idea? I think so.
    Can the idea be improved? Certainly.
    So far, we have been unusually lucky in that attacks on schools have been single gun men intent on mayhem. I fear this is not going to always be the case.
    It should come as no surprise to anyone here the day a school/university is attacked by a well armed group of terrorists, regardless of being foreign or home grown, with a predictable outcome.

    A body of “resource officers”-gotta love that term, along with qualified teachers both organized and trained to immediately respond effectively should already be in place. That might mean some of the teachers aren’t physically able to do so, but they should be armed, trained and equipped to at least defend their classroom. Even if they have to make full time positions in the individual state’s National Guard to augment and train those on site. Radio communication should be made available between those tasked with defending the students, and continuing education as to new potential threats as well as regular training with standards to be met.

  8. Once again the “Cop Hater” Robert Farago spews his hatred for LEO’s and his “expertise” on everything to do with guns and tactics. I wonder if there is anyone that actually listens to your nonsense.

      • No one hates bad cops than me….and I have worked with and around some!

        I don’t hate Gun Blog Writers….I just hate know-it-all Gun Blog Writers that never miss a chance to write about cops gone bad, making it seem that most are bad.

        During my 12 years in the Military and 25+ years as a Trooper I can tell you that most cops I have known are good, hard working, LOW PAID public servants that feel the job is a calling and do it because that want to make a difference and help people. Why don’t you write about some of them, or will that cramp your style?

      • Robert, I agree SROs are not the answer. I believe that we should do away with public schools altogether. Home schooling is best but private schools with appropriate security(all staff willing to use a gun) will also work. As Morpheus said to Neo, “What is the Matrix?” In the Educational Matrix we find ourselves in it is a system of control designed to turn us into good little worker bees. Slaves of the State. We must take responsibility not only for our children’s safety but their education as well. Public Schools indoctrinate they don’t educate. And that goes all the way through college.

    • Whit, I think what we’re all trying to do here is:

      1/ Admit that problems exist in the current state of affairs

      2/ Describe the nature of the current state so we can identify the gaps

      3/ Engage in a lively (sometimes contentious) discussion so we can run all proposals through ye olde wringer o’ ideas until the mental laundry is clean(er)

      Take it easy on Farago would you? He has given us a safe place to give each other intellectual noogies as we strive to make our own little patches of dirt a better place to live in.

      And I’m with all of you all the way, XL bucket o’ popcorn snugged in with me in my comfy recliner, as I watch the verbal fireworks burst across my big-screen monitor. That is all.

  9. So SRO’s get shot first, except when they don’t, like in Arapahoe High and Reynolds High.

    As far as SROs sexually abusing children, for every one of them doing that there are ten teachers doing the same thing, and another hundred teachers who are mentally abusing all the kids who are under their control. People who don’t want their kids abused will just have to send them to a good private school or home school them.

    • Seriously, I seem to recall everyone trumpeting to the heavens right after the Arapahoe shooting about how a good guy with a gun turned out to be the answer. we can’t have it both ways

      • I’m missing something with your statement. The “good guy with the gun” was the SRO at Arapahoe. Neither of us are advocating for unarmed teachers, but it was the uniformed deputy at Arapahoe that engaged the student. Once the student saw the deputy approaching, he ducked around the corner and blew his own head off with his shotgun.

    • Your opinion on public schools depends on your school system. My kids were fine with their schools, and the schools educated them as well as could be expected. The major problem they had was the runaway drug use among the students.

  10. @RF, Sadly Robert, you are picking nits with a shovel, painting with a broad brush, and so on. As I and others have said, you are using exactly the same tactic the Statists/Leftists use against the 2A and an armed populace. One wonders, do you have children in school?

  11. SROs are a tripwire, nothing else. shots fired at the SROs serve warning that the rest of the school population is under threat (if not outright attack), giving some the time to run, hide and hope…and others the time to barricade and unholster.

    SROs should be outside on roving patrol, with no student contact whatsoever. oh….one SRO per school is not enough to allow for random, effective patrol. SROs walking their posts will not be standing around, doing nothing.

    • george from fort woreth, that is more in line with what I think an SRO should be and how they should be deployed.

      – Not necessarily a cop; maybe a retired cop, or retired veteran, or experienced private security officer. Parents with a CCW could be associate SROs.

      – Because they are not full-time police, they would be less expensive (or free volunteers!), so multiple SROs become more affordable and realistic.

      – Part of the day/shift (during class, when the halls are otherwise empty), they would be walking patrol, checking entrances/exits, moving in unpredictable patterns, not easily plotted rotations.

      – Prior to class changes, at the beginning and end of the school day, or any time students are moving between rooms (lunch?), the SROs would step into various small kiosk-like enclosures in the hallways. With heavily tinted glass over small windows, they could monitor the immediate area and main entrances without giving up the advantage of surprise, as there would be 10-12 kiosks, but only 3-4 SROs; at any given moment, some kiosks would be empty, and some would be manned, and passerby would not be able to tell the difference. It also prevents the SRO from being blindsided by a student attacker in the hall, or mobbed by multiple people during group movements. Kiosks could have a PA system to give instructions if needed, a “panic button” to signal an attack, possibly a bank of monitors to view other entrances or the parking area, a small stand-up desk for writing reports, and NO CHAIR (maybe a small tipsy stool, but nothing a person could sleep in or get too comfortable in).

      They are not there to be a cop, or do cop-like functions; only to watch for an attack, signal one if it happens, and respond if possible. No playing buddy-buddy with the kids, no yakking on a long coffee break with the staff.

      • I’m starting to sense (well, not really starting) that there are very few people (or possibly many) on here that don’t have any clue what an SRO really is. After serving as an LEO (no longer the case and now in the private sector) that entered law enforcement in the first half of the last decade, I’d like to share a little more specifically what an SRO really is as well as their job description.

        I often hear the complaint on here that people should know what they are talking about and stay in their field. I’ll use the example of the doctor. The complaint in recent postings regarding doctors advocating gun safety was that they are trying to dictate standards in a completely different field in which they are often “clueless” and may have never even handled a firearm. I wouldn’t go to my auto mechanic for a heart valve failure, nor would I look to a doctor’s expertise for a brake job or a firearms safety course. Unfortunately today, after reading not only the original posting by Robert, but many of the comments, it has become very clear that most are clueless on this issue.

        I first off want to start out by saying that I have always been an advocate for “Monday Morning Quarterbacking” of the police. Yes, you actually heard me correctly. At the same time, it should be intelligent, and informed. I’m an occasional sports watcher. I enjoy watching with friends, but I don’t have a lot of time to typically watch a game and don’t follow any particular sport very closely. Sometimes, very complex play discussions will come up. It’s those moments that I learn from the better informed. It would be wrong of me to “Monday Morning Quarterback” certain decisions since I don’t follow certain sports very closely. I can express my opinions, but then I have to learn from those that actually understood what is going on.

        With that said, there are several ways to get a “better handle” on what the field of law enforcement actually is and isn’t. Watching “Cops” is not one of those ways. Besides the fact that they only show the 2% of film that has action, most LEO’s will tell you that they are just screaming at the TV for all the officer safety violations. That’s usually not a great way to learn how to do it “properly.” I do recommend doing ride-a-longs, and lots of them. Get 60-100 hours under your belt over the course of 12-18 months with a few different agencies. This will give you an opportunity to see what “actually” goes along in the car versus what people “perceive” the police are doing. Many agencies also offer “Citizen Academies.” Some of them even give basic training in law, and how the statutes are written. Most people I talk to don’t know what “mens rea” is or how it directly pertains to the actual offense. I often hear people complain because a cop “pulled me over” when they were over 1 mile away from the original violation not realizing that in my state, there is a 90-day statute of limitation on traffic infractions. IE, the police officer had 3-months to write you that ticket for an infraction, and 18-months for a misdemeanor traffic offense. Or often we hear, “That officer arrested that person and put him in the back of the patrol car without ‘reading them their rights.'” This statement is often made in ignorance since three things have to be in play for Miranda to apply: suspect of a crime, perceived custody, actively being interrogated (questioned) regarding the crime.

        I encourage everyone to read this particular article: http://thelawdogfiles.blogspot.com/2008/04/police-are-public-and-public-are-police.html. It should be mandatory for all LEO’s and everyone on here should read it as well. The last 15-20 years has seen a hard shift back towards the “community policing” model. Guess what, it’s working! Crime is down, we have better community partnerships than every, etc. Unfortunately, the media sure doesn’t like, so they kick up firestorms and try to build up the walls again when incidents such as Ferguson happen. Is it perfect, “no.” Is there still a long way to go, “yes.” The responsibility falls on both the police and the communities to get the real model of “community policing” back to what it should be.

        So, the following is what a School Resource Officer is and isn’t. It is based off of my former agency, and while there will be some variation, this is fairly standard across the United States. The agency I was with is located in the suburbs outside Denver. My agency had roughly 450-500 sworn personnel in four divisions. I’m not willing to publicly post what agency it was, but I’d be willing to talk with Robert off of the public forum.

        My agency required a minimum of 3-years patrol experience prior to applying for the position of SRO. Those that transfer into that position upon an opening must then stay in that position for a minimum of a year before they can apply for a different division. Unlike our standard patrol shifts of 4x 10-hour workdays, they are required to work 5x “8’s” for the same pay, so they are giving up a day off.

        Each High School and Middle School in the county is assigned an SRO, and each SRO is also assigned a certain number of elementary schools. The primary functions of the SRO were not only to liaison between the department and the schools/parents, but to take all criminal reports, handle the drug issues, work with problem students, etc. The average SRO would take anywhere from 3-8 criminal reports daily. They would range from theft and criminal mischief to assaults and any sort of allegations towards faculty. SRO’s also have the responsibility for many anti-drug programs in the school (meth is a HUGE problem in the schools in CO), the “Alive at 25” driver education program, alcohol education classes, and working as a resource for many of the troubled youth. During the summer months, they work a normal patrol district. They are by no means a “security guard” or “hall monitor” and often have a much higher workload over working a standard patrol district.

        One of the reasons this position has become mandatory is due to the “mandatory reporting” of all allegations to law enforcement at we have seen across the United States. Most of my career, I worked a swing shift on patrol. One year, a particular precinct was extremely short-staffed on a day watch. Every Tuesday, I would work an overtime day shift. When one of the SRO’s was on vacation for two weeks, I had two of the most miserable Tuesday shifts that I can recall. The call load and issues at the five schools they had were often “ridiculous.”

        One of the incidents that I had to respond to involved a student accusation of an assault by a teacher. The student was in the 8th grade, and she claimed a teacher had “grabbed my wrists.” The school system has a mandatory law enforcement reporting policy. I interviewed the teacher, as well as four witnesses that were in the classroom when this assault took place. It turns out the student (by her own admission corroborated by the witnesses) had raised her fist to hit the teacher and the teacher’s actions were defensive. The teacher did in fact grab the student’s wrist and pulled her out into the hallway. It was an appropriate response given the initial aggressive action by the student (IE she was swinging her arm to punch the female teacher in the face). Even though it was an “unfounded” offense, I still had to criminally document the incident in a way that would hold up in court, including all witness statements, etc. I also got a call from the mother who “went off” on me since “My junior would NEVER do anything like that,” blah, blah, blah.”

        Like I mentioned in an above-post, most of these problems and reasons for these positions is the fallout of the family unit in our society. It always begins in the home. I can’t tell you how many juvie shoplift thefts I took over the years in which I could show the parents the CCTV footage of “junior” taking items and concealing them in their pockets (or ripping the tag off of sunglasses and wearing them out the store). They would then be apprehended by store AP attempting to leave. The parents would then get upset with us and claim that “junior” was going to pay for those items. I ended up over the years not despising the juveniles, but instead strongly disliking many parents. A lot of these issues stem from the ’90’s (I know, much earlier, but the ’90’s had significant shift). NBC used to run ads, “Be a friend to your kid.” I say NO, be a PARENT to your kid. We have plenty of “friend” parents out there that play video games all night long with their kid, and look where that has gotten us . . .

        Part of the reason this whole posting has bothered me is that we accuse the left of looking “stupid” when they don’t have a clue what they are talking about (think Kevin De Leon, “Ghost Gun,” “with .30 caliber magazine clip,” and “30 bullets in ½ second rate of fire”). They destroy all of their credibility. I feel this article was unfortunately written in “ignorance” of the subject and makes us all look “stupid” as well as destroying our credibility.

        That’s why my offer is still out to Robert. Feel free to contact me via e-mail, and I’d even be willing to have a phone chat. This is not out of hostility or any sort of “trap.” I’d just like to discuss this further hopefully help provide for a more complete article in the future. I personally really like this site and hate when articles like this appear that are due to misinformation. This site as a general whole is a good overall resource, and it would be nice for it to stay that way.

        • Each High School and Middle School in the county is assigned an SRO, and each SRO is also assigned a certain number of elementary schools.

          That sounds very much like how it works at the schools in my area (Douglas County, CO). I can monitor a single deputy making daily rounds between my kids’ two schools (middle and elementary) plus a couple other elementary schools. Such a “deployment” (for lack of a better word) is not protection, and perhaps that’s not even the intent.

        • Jeff in CO, thanks for the clarification on current SRO duties. I was aware of most of them, but not all.

          When I described my concept of attack prevention, above, I wasn’t really trying to re-define the current SRO’s duties; I was just saying if we, as a country, decided to ADD personnel to schools who were specifically tasked to prevent/respond to attacks, that this is the way I thought it should be done. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have used a term describing a position that is already defined.

          How about using BSO (Building Security Officer) to describe this new job? In smaller schools, it would be accurate; on a larger campus, BSOs could move between buildings, if necessary, to provide more coverage with less personnel. The basic idea is to provide full-time coverage of every school while it is in session, and as has been pointed out in the past, we simply don’t have enough police to do this job, no matter how important we deem it to be.

        • thank you for the information. now that i know….whatever you call the on-site, armed, non-student/non-teacher, that person should not be involved in any police function…including community outreach. the mis-named SRO should be there to absorb and attack, and counter-strike as necessary. hence the “tripwire” designation in my original email. their entire function should be to identify and neutralize the threat. period.

          cheers, ya’ll

      • DJ9, your description of your “kiosks” missed two points. Doors lock securely, and each holds a loaded AR.

  12. I agree. More defenders are better than a single defender expected to do everything.

    If you’re concerned about the potential bad cop, why wouldn’t you have the same concerns about teachers?

    There are many instances of misconduct from teachers at all levels of education. I don’t know what the numbers are, but I am sure there are many more that go unreported which we are unaware.

    I guess it comes down to who you trust more.

    • I think it comes down to “how much does it COST?” For the same amount of money spent on SROs incentivizing teachers to train and carry would be far more effective preventing school shootings, and cops could still be cops, not babysitters.

      • Plus, any time you split responsibility up amongst many individuals, it becomes ever more difficult for the “bad apple” to get away with whatever evil he intends to commit, for all the other individuals will be potentially watching. Thus they must all be somehow bought off or brought into the plot, and the more individuals involved, the more difficult that becomes. That is the problem that is inherent in all centralized authority: How to keep the few at the top honest? That problem has never been solved. History shows that the more power and trust one places in any one individual, the more corrupt that individual becomes. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  13. Im proud to live in a country that puts such a high value on liberty.

    I mean where else can you live where your school is locked down, there are armed guards, kids have to carry papers to move about freely in the facility and pass through checkpoints. Where they can be searched without probable cause, their property confiscated without due process, and their freedom of speech squelched by a soccer mom calling a principal.

    Hell yeah! “Murica!

    Unfortunately our children only understand true freedom as a concept, not as a principal or reality.

    • I agree. Leave the kids alone, forget the barbed wire or whatever, send the cops on patrol elsewhere, and have every staff member CC or be fired. Including cafeteria ladies and janitors.

        • Why, living here where things are still somewhat logical and rational is ever so much better than your DC mandated, vaccinated and fluoridated drug haze. Its pretty nice over here, you might want to try it someday! 🙂 (sarcasm at your expense is just the price you pay for being a troll)

        • @ken, was I talking to you? Uh, no. But since you answered, let me retort: Tinfoil much?

          And I say that as a Texan, but one that does not live in Larry’s Lalaland.

        • The ill effects on the brain and other organs by sodium fluoride and most vaccines are no tinfoil hat ‘theory’ but well documented fact. Maybe you just don’t do research in Texas, but I suspect it’s just you and your types that remain unaware. Usually willfully.
          None are so blind as those who WILL NOT see…

  14. When it comes to hiring someone for any position in a school, a small number of them will have some sort of scandal at some point in time. SROs are a waste of money, but nothing more. In the reality of most states where all schools are gun free, I would rather have an armed SRO than nobody. It’s far from ideal but it’s the reality.

    Furthermore I would request that you don’t use anecdotal evidence to make a point. That’s exactly what anti gun people do to degrade rights and it’s dishonest.

  15. SROs are a good start until schools can add trained armed volunteers among vetted staff.

    SROs are usually paid on a federal grant program, so they arent on the regular PD payroll (I think) and its my understanding that many are new, or transfers looking to be full time. So they might be more motivated than the average, and a good deal for a lower price than a full-time union pay with all the extra overhead that goes with it.

    SROs who are on-site who can establish a good connection with kids can be extra eyes and ears, and an intel network for staff, to spot troubled kids early, step in and avoid letting a situation develop that parents need to know about, via proper channels, etc.

    I wouldnt focus on a few bad apples as proof the program wont work tactically- its not an either or-
    better- if you have to, think of the SRO as first bump in the road, or the one who slows down an attacker while kids are bugging out, and staff are defending their retreat.

    All depends on leadership and management at the school, is my point. And partnership with the local PD- they should be training or at least certifying and helping the armed volunteers stay current, on skills and the tactics for school emergency, including active shooter, new threat analysis, etc.

    Good cops are a godsend, and many have their kids in the same schools, married to teachers, so its a natural partnership done right. Focus on the good examples as examples, for generalizations and suggestions for how to do more, is my suggestion, RF, not the negative examples- deal with those individually to correct.

    • Publius, thank you for your comments! Just as a quick FYI, my agency, as well as other agencies in the area had the SRO’s on regular payroll. I just posted above their actual job descriptions as well as the prerequisites for being an SRO.

      I don’t think people realize on here how many have had a very positive impact on students and shifted behavior that was heading down that wrong path. They are truly often in a “thankless job” and unfortunately “spit on” by society since they are often perceived as just “active shooter security guards.”

      Due to their interaction with students and their lives, it’s quite amazing how many incidents have been thwarted over the years due to the trust of the students. There is no question that some of these incidents wouldn’t have been stopped in time had SRO’s not been actively involved in the school. Many kids are not going to “spill the beans” with a district cop they don’t know. On the other hand, they will often be more willing to talk with that trusted SRO that has taken the time to build their trust and work with the students.

      • Thanks Jeff. We will never know the number of gun shootings or other tragedies averted thanks to the mentoring and involvment of SROs and any other caring adults for troubled kids, because those stats are simply uncollectable.

        But anecdotally, anyone who knows schools with community support, whether thats a paid good guy with a gun, or other involved caring adults, knows it works.

        What everyone one is missing is that Obama is funding a new start on SROs- that program had ended, I believe- and with little to no fanfare from MDA, Brady, or other gun-grabbers, because its a validation, of what the NRA said- the commonsense truth that a good gun with a gun ON THE SPOT will stop a bad guy with a gun.

        Is he going to stop a Charlie Hebdo, or worse- of course not, so we have to build on that, and thats exactly what schools districts and some states are quietly doing- arming and training volunteers to CCW.

        And that doesnt frighten cops union stewards, because once people see what cops do, and how valuable the training is, to bring CCWers in schools up to snuff, and stay there- the MORE support and gratitutude in community for what LEOs do everyday, in a tough environement-

        despite the black eye given to all, by bad apples…

        Remember- a community that is tight with the cops is going to hold them to higher standards, too. And when you teach, you become better at what you do- so its good sense to have cops traiing CCWers, and getting to know them, as neighbors, not the prototypical cranky OFWG Teabagger Gun-nut the Brady progtards would have everyone believe…

  16. Experience hath shewn that school resources officers can stop an attacker as well as be the first victim of an attacker. Either way, why would anyone or any school want to put all of their eggs in one basket? Why not have multiple armed people capable of stopping one or possibly even multiple attackers? On top of that, a single resource officer cannot be everywhere at once whereas multiple armed staff, visitors, and parents are everywhere in a school.

    Furthermore, school resource officers are expensive. Why incur all that expense when armed staff, parents, and visitors can do the job equally well — and possibly even better? The fact that eliminating school resource officers eliminates any chance that a criminal resource officer will harm students is simply frosting on the cake.

  17. I think colonel Grossman put it best when he compared school shootings to responses to fires. The answer isn’t one measure, but a series of them creating defense in depth. http://www.policeone.com/school-violence/articles/2058168-Active-shooters-in-schools-The-enemy-is-denial/
    Does a SRO help potentially prevent situations? Sure. Does that mean we should rely on them exclusively? There we run into the same situation as with first responders and armed citizens. one doesn’t negate the value of the other, but rather compliments it

  18. There’s a simple way to fix this: find someone qualified to teach some simple class for part of the day, but be there all day. Don’t give out special insignia.

    Of course, that just points to the real solution, which is to arm some teachers — and hang a tactical vest or twelve in strategic places for teachers as well; some who aren’t willing to use a firearm might be willing to step up with something else (think a physical education teacher putting a fast ball right to a shooter’s temple).

    • Like the police, anyone “not willing to carry a gun” should refer to the “help wanted” ads for a new job. An educated kid is nice. A living kid going home at night is more important. And a total reversal of constant anti-gun indoctrination in nearly every school in the country would be a welcome byproduct.

  19. Signage outside says this is a no firearm zone, but there is one person in there with a firearm, sometimes. Don’t worry, they will be obvious and may even point themselves out.

    The SRO idea like many is well intentioned and looks good on paper and gives the typical anti-self defense image of, hey look, we’re doing something to protect the kids and are not arming the staff. We are the face of your children’s safety, trust us.

    The bureaucracy of the education system supports anti-2A delusions. One would think an educated base could understand objective data, it seems not. The clear message is they intend to use kids as guinea pigs first, choosing clear self-defense methods second.

  20. Arapahoe HS, CO and Reynolds HS, OR

    Two real school shootings stopped in 60-80 seconds by armed resource officers. BTW there are many instances of teachers doing these horrendous acts as described for these resource officers.

  21. They are better than nothing. Most public schools are strapped for cash and won’t arm their teachers. They just put up gun-free zone signs. And Whit -Robert Farago has millions of hits on his site. How many on yours? Finally-home school if you can.

  22. Finally! An article by RF that I can agree with wholeheartedly, while adding nothing. (RF, if you see this, please note that I don’t pick on you ALL the time. 🙂 )
    Hear, Hear!

  23. Anyone who fails to recognize the efficacy of “SRO’S” has fallen into error.

    SRO’s are not in schools solely for the purpose of preventing mass shootings. SRO’s develop rapport with students which prevent crimes, developing crimnality, and provide positive role models.

    SRO’s are THE source of high quality intelligence on the criminal activity of students………as well as the victimization of students.

    SROs form lasting relationships with students that can be strong enough to discourage abberrant behavior and prevent criminal behavior.

    Granted, SROs are targets………..but, then, all police officers are targets all of the time.

    As a retired police executive, I value the role of SROs in our schools. Granted, there are occasional behavioral problems by SROs……with some being severe and unforgiveable, but, in lions share, police officers in schools have been exceptionally effective in program terms.

    And………..I don’t recall any police officers in schools being the first target………..I do recall them responding to deadly threats……..oft times, with valor.

    • “And………..I don’t recall any police officers in schools being the first target …”

      The Red Lake (Minnesota) school massacre in 2005 is pretty darned close. The attacker’s first victim was his own grandfather at home who was a tribal police officer. Then the attacker went to Red Lake Senior High School. He promptly killed the unarmed security guard at the entrance to the school and then went inside to kill others.

    • If your community believes a police officer bouncing between schools serves a useful purpose (or several), by all means assign one. But that officer protecting several schools from an active shooter scenario should be a coincidence, not a primary purpose of such an officer, but a secondary responsibility of every staff member at every school.

  24. Speaking from the standpoint of a teacher with decades of experience dealing with campus police, my take on the SRO dilemma is that newly arrived SRO’s face an immediate role conflict. Being a campus cop is decidedly different from being a street cop. Campus cops are much closer to our common idea of the sheepdog in that they don’t see themselves as the gate-keepers of public order, charged with enforcing laws, so much as they see themselves benign guardians. There’s a big difference in being one or the other, so much so, that being a campus cop or a street cop are almost incompatible roles. It’s not surprising that street-cops tend look down on campus cop work and presumably SRO work, regarding it as one rung up the professional ladder from security guard. Police bureaucracies usually don’t place their best and brightest in such jobs. Just sayin’.

  25. In certain schools, in certain cities… having armed security there is a necessity. As much as I hate it, it just has to be done. Now, they should be there to protect the physical safety of the students only. Not giving tickets for being tardy, mind you.

  26. Where I am the School Resource Officers are retired deputies. They aren’t paid as much as a patrol officer but the benefits (health insurance in particular) are higher than if you were to just arm teachers. But the SROs benefit from having one job, having mandated training the teachers would not have time for (weapon retention and regular active shooter drills) and, perhaps most important, being able to talk on a radio articulately. Again, around here the SROs are retired after a full career and have BTDT when it comes to confronting violence.

  27. Nit: Beslan, not “Belsen” (Belsen was a concentration camp, which was another horrific thing that could have been stopped by an armed populace, so the mistake is understandable).

  28. Just I want to start reading TTAG again I stumble across an article like thus and I am reminded why I don’t read RF’s unintelligible, hallf researched prose.

    First, school resource officers do more than just protect students from random spree shooters, mostly they protect students and teachers from disgruntled parents and angry students. They are there to keep order in the schools and they do a damn fine job of it.

    Secondly, RF, you are a first class example of why journalism is dying. Had you of taken 10 seconds to research Columbine you would have known that the first officer on the scene, and the first officer to fire on the killers during Columbine was the high school’s RSO.

    Congrats dumbass on another poorly written anti-cop screed.

    • ” mostly they protect students and teachers from disgruntled parents and angry students. They are there to keep order in the schools and they do a damn fine job of it.”

      Since you seem so very sure of that, I’m certain that you can provide at least one example of an SRO doing ” a damn fine job” protecting a student or teacher from a “disgruntled parent” or “angry student”, yes?
      Perhaps even just ONE??????

    • Patent BS. Please note the SRO at Columbine received not a scratch. He did not fire at one point because the killers were standing in a field 60 yards away, which anybody who has trained should be able to take on without problem. He joined the first cop on the scene taking shelter behind the engine block of the officer’s car while listening to murder inside. REALLY bad example. Conversely, the unarmed Indian guard referred to above died trying to protect the children who were his responsibility.

      • Reminded(for some strange reason) of “poorly written “, “unintelligible, hallf researched prose”(not to mention misspelled), isn’t it interesting how easily the trolls of the net accuse everyone ELSE of doing that which they do so obviously and habitually, that it just has to be somebody else’s fault?
        What must it be like in the mind of a troll? It boggles the thinking mind, does it not?

  29. Fortresses anyone? In the coming years, as attacks on citizens become more commonplace, the mass killing of children will be just one tactic, if not the main. They will be hitting the weak spots, and they will have firearms and explosives not sanctioned by any law but theirs. Whatever means are ultimately used to protect schools from crazies today will have to be reinforced as time goes on. The central government can not be depended on. Each state/county/locality will have to come up with something, as in, right now, and refine it as needed. For the time being, take down those “gun free zone” signs, put up, “this school is protected by armed adults” and mean it. Sadly, there will be some that will ignore all laws, warnings, and resistance, and keep coming and killing, until their last breath. You know, like the ones that have ignored the laws up to now. Monsters are real, and they look just like us.

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