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The Influence of Subjective and Objective Rural School Security on Law Enforcement Engagement Models: A Mixed Methods Study

Award Information

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Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $645,952)

The Statement of the Problem: The University of Nebraska Public Policy Center proposes to partner with the Nebraska Department of Education to conduct a Category 3 research study that will examine how perceptions and organization of school safety and security are associated with level and type of law enforcement engagement in rural schools. While rural schools engage with law enforcement, they often do not label the engagement as part of a formal “school resource officer” (SRO) model. This mixed methods research will: 1) lead to a taxonomy of how law enforcement is engaged in rural schools that can be tested against crime and violence outcomes, 2) establish reliability of school perceptions of safety and security, and 3) examine how safety and security preparedness is associated with law enforcement engagement in rural schools. A self-assessment using the state’s safety and security standards rubric will be obtained from 151 rural schools, which will be validated through objective on-site reviews. We will gather data via an online survey from 2,265 rural school personnel and 755 law enforcement representatives about perceptions and protocols guiding their relationship. Existing data used in this study include crime statistics, school incidents, census information, school quality data and student survey data from the Nebraska Risk and Protective Factors Student Survey. A mixed methods research design will be used to collect, analyze and interpret quantitative and qualitative data on multiple levels (individual, school, and community levels). The social-ecological theory of violence prevention guides the research by predicting that an interplay of these factors influence the type and level of law enforcement engagement in rural schools. We also predict that rural schools with more organized and coordinated safety and security will have more formal engagement with law enforcement and that more formal engagement will have more frequent reports from schools with less formal dispositions. Analysis in this design includes merging datasets and employing statistical tests for direct comparison of quantitative and qualitative data. We will use a variety of statistical tests including multilevel modeling and traditional statistical analyses. Some qualitative data will be transformed so it can be combined with other data and some will be used to help explain results. Scholarly products include journal articles and presentations. A policy brief and infographics will be used to reach a broader audience. All datasets will be submitted as required by grant guidance. ca/ncf
Date Created: September 13, 2016