U.S. flag

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

School Resource Officers and Police in Schools - Breakout Session, NIJ Virtual Conference on School Safety

On February 16-18, 2021, the National Institute of Justice hosted the Virtual Conference on School Safety: Bridging Research to Practice to Safeguard Our Schools. This video includes the following presentations: 

Mixed-Methods Evaluation of K-12 School Security Professionals & School Resource Officers Online Training: Understanding Trauma and Social-Emotional Learning, Dorothy Espelage

School Resource Officers (SROs) and other school security professionals (SSPs) (e.g., security specialists, guardians) have become increasingly common in schools; however, most states do not require that these professionals receive training related to understanding trauma and/or how to promote social emotional learning competencies among students. The current project evaluated an online professional development program for SSPs that provides education on two topics related to best practices in working with youth in K-12 schools: Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) and Social Emotional Learning (SEL). This study used a mixed-methods evaluation of these two modules. Quantitative results indicated that professionals in the intervention had significant improvements in trauma-informed knowledge and competencies compared to waitlist. Qualitative analyses indicated that school security benefited from the training and they expressed learning new strategies to serve and support students with known or unknown adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). School security personnel believe that being empowered with this knowledge has the potential to influence how they will work with students in the future. It is ethically important to train school staff to work with students in an equitable and informed manner.

Strengthening Culturally-Responsive Practices to Promote and Students’ Social-Emotional Wellbeing in Urban Schools, Jessika Bottiani and Duane Thomas

The presentation highlights takeaways from the Coping Power in the City (CPIC) project, in which Coping Power, a school-based, tier 2 preventive intervention, was culturally and contextually adapted for Black early adolescents transitioning to high school in a Mid-Atlantic city. The integration of a school police component into the intervention model was a novel feature. We report findings from CPIC project data showing buffering effects of culturally- responsive teaching and caring school police on the association between racial discrimination and school engagement. We preview future directions from CPIC, including an upcoming NIH-funded school-based project to promote teachers' cultural responsiveness and students' racial equity literacy.

An Evidence-based Approach to School Policing, Trevor Fronius, Kathy Martinez-Prather, and Brenda Scheuermann

The Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC), Texas State University and WestED have evaluated an evidence-based approach for integrating police into educational environments to enhance safety and climate. The TxSSC will present an overview of the SBLE framework for implementing school policing programs. WestEd will then discuss the challenges of carrying out a school safety study amidst the pandemic and the impact on the current study. Finally, WestEd will present preliminary findings on the impact of the framework on school-level estimates of short and longer- term school safety and climate outcomes, such as bullying and victimization, delinquency, and connectedness and safety. The presentation will conclude with next steps for the study and considerations for the field.

An Examination of School Policing Programs: Where We Have Been and Where We Need to Go Next, Joseph McKenna and Anthony Petrosino

In 2019, the NIJ was directed to provide Congress with a report on the state of school policing in the United States that examined the current role of police in schools and provided recommendations on how they can better serve the needs of the students. To address this directive, NIJ engaged two consultants to conduct a comprehensive literature review and examination of data sources, facilitate four days of expert panel discussions, and synthesize the results from these data collection efforts. This presentation will provide some of the highlights of the report. A focus will be placed on understanding the history of police in schools and how it has influenced where we are at today; the various ways in which police have been used in school; the roles police have in schools and how these have evolved; the state of training specific to police who work in schools; and the impacts school policing programs have had on students and schools. We will also provide a review of our expert panel meeting as well as offer some recommendations for improving research and practice in the area of school policing moving forward.

Date Published: February 17, 2021