U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Bridging the Gap: School Resource Officers as Bridge Builders in the Community Policing Era

NCJ Number
Journal of Crime and Justice Dated: 2019 Pages: 1-16
Date Published
16 pages

This study drew from 26 interviews with school resource officers (SROs) to examine their motivations for engaging in non-law enforcement roles and activities in public schools.


Since their origination in the 1950s, school resource officers (SROs) have become increasingly commonplace in schools throughout the United States. In turn, researchers have developed a considerable base of empirical work on SRO roles and how these roles motivate action in public schools. A large part of this empirical work has focused on roles that fall outside conventional law enforcement duties, such as when officers act as mentors, counselors, and educators; however, this line of research has not yet investigated the motivations for why SROs engage in non-law enforcement roles. The findings of the current study indicate that SROs identify the overarching motivation of non-law enforcement duties as 'bridging the gap,' where they seek out at-risk students and connect them to necessary resources in the school and community. This study found that SROs engage in building four types of bridges. The findings also suggest that SROs draw from a community-oriented policing framework to explain this motivation. 49 references (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019