Handcuffs & Coffee brings the issues of local law enforcement back to the coffee table: Our community, our issues, our responsibility.
A school resource officer-SRO is a law enforcement function that is needed in The Lodi School District. Your police department is working with the school district to explore the feasibility of creating a SRO program. A SRO is a sworn police officer that is responsible for safety and crime prevention in schools. This definition is incredibly vague and only touches the surface of the function. A SRO works closely with school administrators and faculty to develop comprehensive safety plans to ensure the school is a safe place for students and faculty to learn and teach. A SRO acts as a liaison between the police department and the students.
This interaction is valuable as it creates an environment where students know the officer before a time of crisis occurs in a students life. That crisis may be a problem with bullying or a lack of resources at home. The crisis could be the worst type, where a threat to the school is known and a student without a SRO may not know who to ask for help.
Learning difficulty is increased when outside stressors effect the student. A lack of food or clean drinking water or heat in the winter, may be a private issue and it’s hard to ask for help. A SRO can help the student gain access to resources for the family. This type of help is available in our community and county but without a safe relationship, such as with a SRO, the help needed may not be identified or asked for.
The interaction with a SRO allows students to know a member of law enforcement as a friend and mentor. A safe person to reach out to for help. The interaction allows students to see law enforcement with “different eyes” one where the goals of law enforcement and safe communities intersect. The SRO will build relationships, provide guidance and safe practices for students. The negative rumors of law enforcement can be dispelled with the truth and open honest dialog. One of the primary functions of law enforcement is education. Education and understanding reduces crime and in turn reduces arrests and incarceration. Most have probably been in a store or restaurant when a uniformed officer has entered. Did someone say “I didn’t do it” or even worse yet say to their child if you don’t behave the officer will take them away. Is that the message you want your child to remember when your child is in danger or needs help. We want you child to run to the officer who will keep them safe. That is what a SRO does, it allows our children to know law enforcement as a friend or helper and not just as enforcer.
The SRO is also a trained professional that can respond to any school threat. Having a law enforcement officer on campus when a threat is learned of greatly reduces the response time to a threat and increases safety for everyone. The National Association of School Resource Officers-NASRO provides training and information including any national trends affecting schools.
The National Association of School Resource Officers, Standards and Best Practices for School Resource Officer Programs, covers four main areas:
- Administrative standards, including an outline of the definition and purpose of a SRO.
- The careful selection of law enforcement officers for SRO positions.
- Specialized SRO training, including adolescent mental health, threat assessment, and active shooter response.
- Interagency collaboration between school districts and law enforcement agencies.
Lodi is a very safe community and The School District is second to none. We must however not relax when it comes to the safety and education of our next generation. I ask for your support of this much needed program in Lodi.
As always, BE SAFE.
Chief Wayne A. Smith is currently employed by the City of Lodi Wi. Smith is a charter member (1996) of The Wisconsin Association of Homicide Investigators (WAHI) and held the office of President (2012-2013), and in 2011 was named Death Investigator of the Year by WAHI.