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.
My name is Nadine Frederick.
I am a senior social science analyst at the National Institute of Justice, and I want to welcome you to this breakout session on school resource officer and police in schools.
Today we're joined by a great cast of presenters who are doing excellent work in research on school resource officers who are really happy to bring this presentation to you.
As we all know, there's been a lot of talk about the value and worth and inclusion of school resource officers over the past several months in our country, and all of these projects were funded well in advance of that, and I really command NIJ for spearheading a lot of the research to analyze the role, the function, the training and the responsibilities that are placed on school resource officers, and so I'm really glad to present these projects.
We're going to have four presentations here today.
The first will be by Dorothy Espelage.
She's going to talk about mixed-methods evaluation of K to 12 school security professionals and school resource officer and online training, understanding trauma and social-emotional learning.
You see that presentation here today.
For our audience, we're glad that you're here.
We are going to be using the chat function in the Q and A function, so please be sure to put any questions that you may have in the Q and A, utilize the chat to have conversations with one another.
We'll be monitoring both of those throughout the course of this, and I also want to remind you that this session is being recorded so that we can post it on the website afterwards.
So without further ado, I'd like to introduce Dr. Dorothy Espelage.
Thank you very much, Nadine.
Good afternoon, everyone.
I'm very excited to present our work that was funded in 2017.
So as Nadine said, prior to the heightened discussion of the role of school police in K through 12 settings.
We wrote this grant proposal as a result of looking and seeing that there was really a gap in the types of training that was available for SROs.
And although with have a national association of SROs that offers training, oftentimes many of our SROs in K through 12 settings either cannot get the time off because there's not as much coverage or they simply can't afford the cost of the training.
And so we were very excited when NIJ funded this project to develop some online professional development training to address this gap.
Certainly thank you, NIJ, for this funding and this opportunity to present this with a larger group.
As many of you know, these projects take a lot a work.
This was from the ground up.
We were building this professional development material that requires script writing, not just expert contents, like myself, but video graphic artists.
So the list could go on and on.
I do want to point out my co-PIs, Phillip Poekert and Walter Leite, and the University of Florida, and a wonderful team of just creative academics and creative people to make this happen.
And so certainly we know, everyone knows on this call, that there's risk and protective factors associated with school violence.
What we do know is that when kids are victimized and teachers are victimized in school, that place sets a stage for other types of adverse outcomes, including truancy and poor academic performance and dropping out of school as well as other criminal behavior.
But we also know that even when there's risk and the violence, there's also protective factors in our school buildings.
And we really do believe that school police and SROs should be active members of that school community and should receive the training alongside their other peers of teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals and support staff.
And so this was our one attempt to bring this type of training to SROs and security specialists, and our work was centered in the state of Florida.
It wasn't long after this particular project was funded that the Parkland shooting happened, so we were developing these materials in the height of this kind of discussion around school shootings as well.
So we're really about developing solutions and making the training for SROs as comprehensive as possible so that they can maximize the work that they do with K through 12 and K through 12 settings.
We know that in order for teachers to be effective and students to be effective, both academic and socially, that they need to feel safe and connected to the adults in the building.
Current safety programs and policies rely a lot on adults in the community, and later today we'll talk about youth voice, but for here we're talking about school resource officers and security specialists who, in my 25 years of doing school violence work, whether it was in Chicago public schools or other school districts, SROs always came to our training for social-emotional learning.
They understood the community.
They may have understood the kids and knew their parents and what was happening in the neighborhood, so I just do want to emphasize that they are a critical, critical part of the school day and we need to ensure that they have professional development opportunities that are afforded to the other adults in the building, and that is not always the case.
And so what we did in this 3-year grant was to develop and pilot test a system of professional development online modules that I'll talk to you a little bit about the content, and I can make this PowerPoint available as well.
And so we were really looking to provide programming that was online, that was evidence-based, that was easy, accessible, impactful and cost-effective to implement.
As I said, so many times SROs cannot go the national conference or their local state conference because of financial constraints or just time constraints, especially with the push in some states that are requiring that every K through 12 school has an SRO or security specialist.
That coverage is challenging and it then prevents the ability to take these -- send these professionals to professional development, so therefore we did the online version.
And so the process behind that was some really good script development, was a literature review understanding the evidence that was out there associated with the four topics that we're going to talk about.
Iterative script development, we wrote with professionals because we could write in an academic way, but certainly no one wants to listen to Dorothy for 90 minutes talking about the research-base, but really just giving us the information in a digestible, palatable manner.
Using a social media clips, we also brought in expert reviews, school violence professionals, like Dewey Cornell, folks that studied racism in K through 12 settings, like Paul Harris at UBA, and others that we really draw upon to make sure that the content was accurate and based in the best research, but we also brought in SROs to review our script.
If you were able to watch the videos, you would see that our narrators were actually current SROs in a number of districts across the state of Florida, so the message is really being delivered by those folks that look like those taking the professional development.
So the four areas that we really saw as gaps in most of the school policing training was really understanding and going deep into trauma-informed care, social-emotional learning, restorative practices, justice, problem-solving.
We're seeing that many of districts we're working with were implementing restorative practices, and sometimes the SRO would be involved and sometimes not.
And we thought it was important to really shine a light on the need for cultural competence, for understanding implicit bias, intersectionality, how to work with gender and sexual minority student, what is the role between race and ethnicity and income and students with disabilities, for example.
And so we packed a lot of content in those four online modules.
So for trauma-informed care, we really wanted the officers to understand and mitigate how we mitigate the neurological and biological, psychological impact of trauma, and also really getting them to understand that it's simply not a bu.
word of trauma-informed approach.
It's a real deliberate, acknowledging that trauma is central in many of the students that they work with lives and what that looks like over time, but also how prevention strategies, upstream prevention can mitigate some of these outcomes.
Social-emotional learning, we took an approach on this online professional development to help the officers understand where they might have some blind spots related to self-awareness, their own self-management, social awareness, responsible decision-making and relationship skills.
We know from the current social-emotional learning literature, that it's not just the students that could develop further their social-emotional competencies, but the adults in the building.
And so we took that approach of really doing a self-exploration with the officers for them to understand how if they understand these five domains of their own social-emotional learning would be much more helpful when they're working with students to understand and identify their blind spots as well.
Restorative justice, because the districts we were working with had had some practice in restorative justice, we were able to go into really good content of getting the officers to understand that school culture is grounded in community problem-solving, that when there's a violent episode, we all have to own it.
When there are things that are happening that need to be restored, we all need to be part of that solution.
But also getting them to understand that it's more than just running a circle, that actually is a change in the milieu of a school climate, to be more positive, less punitive, to be equitable, less racist.
And so that was a really fun module to write, to be honest.
And then we really did want to cover as much as possible of what was in the literature what SROs felt that needed more training in.
And one of the areas was really bringing to the forefront, the experiences of gender and sexual minority, youth and student and how to work with them when they may not understand the pronouns that they may be using.
And unfortunately, what we're hearing from students is that school police may just not understand where they're coming from and it may escalate to a situation that's problematic for both the students and the adults in the situation.
And we also wanted to call in to attention what we were seeing in our other school safety projects, was just this overt racism that pervaded in the schools that we were in, and to really talk about that implicit bias and what that means when you're working with a child, a student, that may not look like you or have the same experiences as you.
And so we did all this work for a couple years, developed these really highly innovative, attractive, well done evidence-based four modules that the then SROs that we recruited and security specialists that we recruited would then complete those over time as they go kind of self-directed with some knowledge checks along the way, but also a training log that they can put their comments down and respond to questions.
And that's going to be important because as you recall, this was a mixed-methods approach.
So we went and we did some survey collection, but we also then pulled out their comments and did some qualitative analyses, and I'll show you just a few quotes related to that.
This is just a picture of the training log that they could always go to.
They could add on to it.
They could download.
They're also resources, as you can see.
There's resources that's available to them.
Most of the modules had one-pagers that they could print them and then remind themselves of the content.
And so when we did our best to do a small-scale, preliminary kind of pilot test, two cohorts of SROs, school resources officers, in Miami-Dade and Orange County in Florida as well as security specialists.
Important SROs carry guns.
They're sworn officers.
Security specialists do not carry guns, and they also report -- SSPs usually report to the school district.
SROs report largely to sheriff officers with the exception of Miami.
They have their own school police department, but we can talk more about the challenges associated with that.
We gave them pre/post and then two follow-ups, so pre/post and a third follow-up, and I'm just going to show you some of those demographics.
One hundred and five participants were recruited from Florida schools.
Twenty-six percent were female.
Forty-nine percent identified as Hispanic, 30 percent African American.
So you can see that in many ways the race and ethnicity as they identified was very similar to the school's populations there in Miami and south Florida.
Age ranges from 28 to 65, and the experience as a police officer was 1 1/2 to 38 years, and those very similarly in the SRO range from up to 19 years.
Surprisingly, which I think a lot of people don't understand is, a lot of the SROs have college degrees and then go to the academy.
So we did have 43 percent population with some college and 39 percent with bachelor's degrees and 9 percent graduate degree.
And so what did we find? So this is the self-report scales.
This was a challenge in it of itself because you had to find the scales where they had a good range, that there was going to be a variability.
So to put it simply, we had an increase in those cohort one that received the training prior to cohort two, so essentially intervention versus control.
We saw an increase in general knowledge around trauma-informed care, specific competencies associated with adopting a trauma-informed care lens and also an increase in knowledge questions embedded within the module.
We didn't see much change in social-emotional learning.
They were really ceilinged out at the beginning.
They thought that those domains were there in pretty good check and in some ways it was good that they were hearing SEL in the schools.
When we looked at who finished the modules, we did see that those SROs that finished all the way through the social-emotional learning module also had specific competencies in trauma-informed care that were increased over time, if you see the means there for number five.
We actually saw an increase in intervention and social awareness, both management and relationship skills, which points to -- They have to finish the modules, and that's just part of a challenge.
We could have a whole session on how to ensure fidelity and exposure to some of this training and I would argue that it probably should be mandated in some ways.
As I said, we had questions embedded within the module.
And one question was, in what ways, after they finished trauma-informed practice, has this information changed your view of some of the students you repeatedly encounter? And so this was some good examples here.
"It showed me to have more compassion and find an alternative route on how to handle the situation." "Moving forward, I will look to find the root of a problem as opposed to simply recommend or impose discipline." " I will try to be understanding and patient with them.
Try to resolve the situation in a positive manner and spend a little more time with them." So this is exactly what they were hearing in the modules and able to reflect back.
What have you learned about establishing trust with students with a history of trauma and ACEs? "Having compassion for those students who have suffered from a traumatic event is crucial." "Being attentive to students' actions and picking up on key behavior indicators that may show when a student may be in a crisis." "The most important thing you could do is listen.
It does not matter how many classes you attend, nor how many degrees you have, if you can't listen, you're not effective.
Listening means more than just hearing." In what ways will you adjust your handling of conflict now that your understanding of ACEs has been enhanced? "I've been an SRO for over 16 years.
Over the years I've learned to relax and listen before I react to the incidents involving students.
It would have been good to learn some of the approach earlier in my career." "Conflict resolution, for me, is a case by case by case basis.
What works one day with a particular situation may or may not work the next.
What astounds me about ACE is the amount of people impacted by it.
As it relates to students, I will be more apartment to look at the root of the problem and provide alternative solutions to it." And so here we have both some quantitative suggestion that there was some knowledge gained through the training and some competencies when they completed both modules, these first two modules completely.
You'll notice that I didn't module three or four results.
We were not able to get most of the SROs to complete all four modules, but we have successfully created some really good online engaging professional development models that's being used in some states across the country.
The pilot results suggest an increase in know and competence in these first two modules.
We need to know more about the restorative justice and cultural competence piece as we move forward.
Qualitative responses indicated exactly what even our speaker was talking about themselves from Sandy Hook Promise, that listening, being attentive, knowing your students and recognizing that there might be some trauma that they're bringing to the table.
I want to think you very much for coming and listening to this.
It was exciting to present it to you, and I look forward to the rest of the presentations.
>> All right.
Dr. Espelage, thank you so much for that presentation.
It just underscores the importance of training and understanding what SROs know and how they apply that knowledge.
So looking forward to hearing more in the question and answer period.
So next I'd like to introduce our next presenter, who's going to be Jessika Bottiani.
I hope I said that correctly.
Correct me if I'm wrong, Jessika, but she'll be presenting a presentation called strengthening culturally responsive practices to promote and students' social-emotional well-being at urban schools.
So I'll pass it over to Jessika.
>> Well, thanks so much, Nadine.
Yes, that's Bottiani.
Most people don't get that right, so I appreciate that.
And thanks, Dr. Espelage, as well.
That was a fascinating presentation.
And thanks to NIJ for this opportunity to discuss our project, which was funded under the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative.
The PI for this project is Catherine Bradshaw, and the project was called coping power in the city.
And I'm Jessika Bottiani.
I am a research assistant professor at the University of Virginia, and I am a co-investigator on this project.
As Dr. Espelage said, these projects take so many people to make them happen, and we partnered closely with the school district that we worked with in a mid-Atlantic city as well as the University of Alabama, Johns Hopkins and Sheppard Pratt.
Duane Thomas was the lead clinician.
He's a licensed clinical psychologist in the site PI on this project at Sheppard Pratt, and he was supposed to present with me today.
Unfortunately, he couldn't join us due to personal circumstances that have arisen, but I'll do my best to represent his significant contributions, particularly as they related to our work with the school police.
In terms of the project background, this project was a testing of an adaptation of a tier two intervention, and the design -- Sorry.
I'm just checking chats, sorry about that.
And the design was a randomized control trial.
We had three cohorts of students, and we collected data at baseline, post and 1-year follow-up.
This was work in 11 public school in the mid-Atlantic city I mentioned, and ninth graders were screened by teachers at risk of aggression and then were eligible for enrollment if they were in the top 30 percent.
Data also included in addition to survey data from students, teachers and school police, data from students and police from focus groups.
The intervention was the Coping Power Program, which was developed by John Lochman.
This an evidence-based intervention that designed for younger students, and our team had been in progress adapting this intervention for middle school students.
In process of that, worked with the district to start this initiation of adaption developmentally for high school students.
And so that adaptation was done with a consultation of Dr. Lochman to address the local context, and the intervention focused on student coping and social-emotional skills.
There were 16 sessions, each with seven to 10 students in them, and the students completed weekly goal sheets.
However based on the local context, we knew that an intervention focused solely on students' skills for coping wasn't going to be sufficient to handle the challenges at hand.
In contextualizing this project, we worked with the school district immediately following a major incident of racialized police brutality leading to the death of an African American man in the city named Freddie Gray, and there were city-wide uprisings and racial justice protestings ensuing and a significant spike in homicides, as you can see here.
So this led not only to elevated tensions between youth and school police, but immediately after initiating the project there was a video recording of a school police officer assaulting a student in the classroom that was released to the media.
And so this was creating a lot of challenges, calls for training of school police officers and questioning their role in the schools.
And all of this was occurring the broader context of really high endemic levels of youth exposure to community violence that were directly and immediately affecting them in their schools, including affecting students who were suffering from direct assaults as well as staff, and some schools actually lost students to homicides during the project.
So with this context in mind, part of the intervention adaptation was a shift from a sole focus on student coping to attempt to address injustices in the context in which they were attending school.
It was a perspective of our research team that to often we approach these interventions from a lens of fixing kids instead of fixing these injustices, and as such, we turned our attention to working with school police officers.
And so the focus of work with school police officers were to improve their cultural, racial equity and positive youth development related competencies with a goal of improving their relationships with students, in particular in our 11 focal schools.
So we offered a training series that I'll talk about in a just a second, and then also developed a specific component in our focus schools that encouraged the officers to work directly with students in a mentoring role, to do goal sheet check-ins with them, to reinforce the language of the intervention around coping power and its elements related to social-emotional learning and coping and even to come and participate in some of the sessions.
And so this encouragement was done through check-ins with our project clinicians in the schools.
So these are the trainings that we implemented.
They focused primarily on youth mental health first aid threat assessment, which is an approach developed by Dewey Cornell, crisis deescalation skills, positive youth development, understanding the impact of racial trauma on young people and general relationship building skills.
So we're still in the process of assessing this work, and today I'll just be presenting data on more secondary analyses and exploratory highlights exploring students' perspectives on police in the context of racial discrimination as well as some perspectives from school police officers identified in our survey data as well as from focus groups.
So for the student perspective, we ran a secondary data analysis that we published in the "Journal of School Health" identifying the role of racial discrimination as it relates to youth engagement in school.
So research suggests that exposure to racial discrimination in interpersonal and systemic forms can have negative effects on youth development, mental health and school engagement outcomes, so we were interested in exploring whether students perceptions that their school police officer was caring might mitigate some of those negative effects of exposure to racial discrimination.
So this study employed baseline data from 397 ninth grade students who were predominantly African American or Black, had a higher aggression scores and were both male and female.
And these were baseline data, so we collected this prior to any intervention.
The schools in this study were relatively large and racially homogeneous, segregated black and brown, under-resourced high schools, a reflection of the legacy of structural racism long impacting the city.
Attendance rates were low, and suspension rates were high in some schools, but not all.
And our conceptual model for this study, we were hypothesizing that racial discrimination would be associated unfavorably with school engagement and connection, but that culturally responsive teachers and caring school police officers as perceived by students could buffer these negative effects.
So in this paper and the results, we found that although culturally responsive teaching was directly associated with school engagement, students perceptions of caring school police were not directly associated.
We did find, however, an interaction effect.
So we found students' perceptions of caring school police mitigated the effect of discrimination on their negative attitudes towards school.
And so what I'm presenting here is a Johnson-Neyman plot, and that shows that as perceptions of caring school police increase, the effect of exposure to discrimination on their attitudes towards school is mitigated.
Though we wanted to be careful about exploring and interpreting these findings in the context of George Floyd's murder and the shift in the discussion of racism and racialized police violence and the broader national dialogue on divestment and police and school police, termination of school police contracts.
It was important to us to be careful about interpreting a positive, effective relationships with school police school police presence in the school as it relates to engagement in school.
There is a lot of mixed evidence showing some iatrogenic effects, some positive effects, and that some of the positive effects even have some differential relations for black students.
And so we wanted to make sure that we were careful in thinking this through, and so we went back into look at data that we had collected from the school police officers to try to make sure that we were interpreting these findings in that light.
So specific to our partner district school police force, the majority of officers were Black or African American men, and they were committed to not just policing in general, but many of them had a long history of policing specifically in schools and experience policing in schools.
They also either majority lived in Baltimore City itself or grew up in Baltimore City.
And so we also have some limited survey findings and focus group data that I can present to help contextualize the finding from our conversation with school police officers.
But I wanted to -- Actually before I proceed, I wanted to just note that anecdotally from our clinical teams work with school officers, we noted a number of officers functioned in an informal counseling capacity in addition to their law enforcement duties, including providing mentoring programs, supporting food and clothing banks for students and other supports usually on their own time.
So in going back to our data and looking at what police were reporting were their roles in working with students, we found that there was fairly little endorsement of activities focused on making arrests or assisting teachers with classroom discipline issues.
When we actually talked to officers in the focus group, we found that they -- noted that they were called on in multiple roles, so in this instance, the facilitator asks what kind of problems you're called to resolve, and they all were saying, "Everything.
We're a police officer.
We're a social worker.
We're a teacher.
We're the principal.
We're everybody," so noting some role confusion.
Officers also noted that they were often cast and called on in a bad cop role, in trying to scare students into behaving properly, and they -- In those conversations, they had a lot of resistance to being put in that role, so and I can read just one of these examples.
"It's clear to the principal and one of the vice principals that I'm not a bully.
You can't call me to try to scare somebody because I'm not going to do that," but a lot of the officers had concerns about being called in to criminalize student behavior that they viewed as maybe breaking a school rule but not necessarily a crime.
Another concern that came up was their being cast into a crisis intervention role, so -- and when they viewed these as not crises, that they were classroom management issues, and so in this case, they were concerned that in the system there was a lot of emergency petitions trying to hospitalize students for behavior that they felt were common behaviors among young children and that there was a lot of emergency petitions to hospitalize young kids when these were what they viewed as classroom management issues and that they were called in to be implementing that and felt uncomfortable in that role.
In terms of asking them about their priority, like, characteristics, what they thought were important characteristics of a school police officer, I just note that a lot of emphasized being a good listener, being able to have relationships, sensitivity to cultural differences and compassion.
They also noted and seemed concerned that their role as a police officer in the school, in particular their wearing of the uniform and how they were seen in relation to the city police, was an obstacle in their relationship building with students.
They also expressed some concern around boundaries for building trust.
In this instance, a student who had been getting into a lot of physical fights, the officer was called in to work with her, and she wasn't very communicative, and head taken her to McDonald's to get a burger and fries, and after that, she was much more open to talking with him, but in this scenario, and in this conversation with the officers, they expressed that now that they would be fired for doing something like that.
In another instance, student's officers shared ways in which female officers in particular held positions of respect and even endearment by students in the school, sometimes being called Mama or Grandma at the school.
And then in terms of levels of expertise, the areas where they felt like they were less confident appeared to be advocating on racial justice issues, serving diverse families and seeking support to cope with their own work-related stressors.
In terms of the types of trainings that they felt were helpful, they wanted more scenarios, more role-play, more practice and less lectures, and so we're exploring the feasibility and need for continued trainings on these topics related to anti-racism, anti-bias, cultural responsiveness, school police officer stress reduction and coping and adolescent development.
We also, as a spin-off of this project, received funding from NIMHD to integrate a racial equity literacy as a skill set component into our Social Emotional Learning models, like Coping Power, and so that's a student-focused element that we are working on, and so that's all.
That's my presentation for today.
>> All right.
Thank you, Dr. Bottiani.
We really appreciate your presentation.
A lot to unpack there and really especially interesting about how the officers are receiving this training and getting that feedback from them, so I'm sure a lot of questions will come from that.
Just want to remind people that we are using the chat function and the Q and A function, so if you have any questions for our presenters, please feel free to put them in the Q and A section.
We'll answer them.
Next, I'm going to introduce our next presenters, who are Dr. Kathy Martinez-Prather and Dr. Trevor Fronius.
Dr. Martinez-Prather is from the Texas School Safety Center, and Trevor Fronius is from WestEd, and they're going to give a presentation called "An Evidence-based Approach to School Policing," and so I'll turn it over to Dr. Martinze-Prather.
-Thank you, Nadine.
Pardon the tremble in my voice.
It's about 50 degrees in my house, so we're here in Texas.
Power is out, so bear with me.
Good afternoon, everybody.
Again, my name is Kathy Martinez-Prather.
I am one of the co-PIs on this project with Dr. Brenda Scheuermann being our PI.
I'm going to begin this presentation with just a brief overview of the study objectives and introduce the school policing framework that is being tested in this study, and then following that, my colleague Dr.
Trevor Fronius at WestEd will present some of the preliminary findings.
Oop, trying to get to my next slide.
There we go.
So Texas is really just one of many states across the country that utilizes school-based law enforcement in schools quite a bit, actually, but the implementation of these policing programs varies from district to district, and it's not really standardized.
So to address this need, the Texas School Safety Center has developed a framework.
It's really intended to assist schools in making intentional, data-driven decisions about their policing programs, so the research partners in this study included the Center, the Texas School Safety Center, whose role was to facilitate implementation of the school policing framework for the randomized selected treatment schools.
Also, Texas State University's College of Education oversaw the fidelity of the framework implementation, and WestEd oversaw the impact in LSE, so collecting data in the form of student surveys, student-officer interactions and campus discipline data.
So the goal of this study is to evaluate an evidence-based framework for integrating police into an educational environment that really serves to enhance safety and climate as well as guide best practices in school policing, and so specifically, the study objectives were to, one, implement a randomized control trial to test comprehensive framework for school-based law enforcement involving 25 middle and high schools, also to determine how the framework contributes to a variety of outcomes, such as student victimization and delinquency, use of exclusionary discipline and climate school measures, and then finally, the objective was to disseminate findings that can be translated to actual practice and further research in schools.
So before I turn this over to Dr. Fronius to present preliminary findings on the impact of the school policing framework, I would like to provide some background as to the development of this framework for testing, so previous research has really sort of conceptualized what an effective framework for implementing school-based policing should look like.
And sort of the individual components of the comprehensive framework that you see here on this slide are derived from previous research and policy recommendations, so it's not a program but really more of a structured, evidence-based framework to meet the needs of the individual campus, and so as you can see on this slide, the first component of the framework is, one, to designate a campus committee comprised of school staff, SROs, parents, community members, that are in turn led by a designated liaison for the group, and this individual helps to really facilitate the entire framework for the campus from year to year.
And, next, this committee works together to set measurable and data-driven goals for its policing program so that all stakeholders have the same expectations and are on the same page about the goals of the policing program, and this really is recognized as an important aspect to the success of the policing program but often one of the biggest barriers that schools encounter.
Next, training of officers on how to work in a school environment is key, and it should be a base training that's provided that's also supplemented with additional training to assist officers with their roles on the campus that could be tied to the identified goals for the policing program.
In addition, training is provided to campus staff to educate them on the roles of the officers and their campuses, as well as inform them of the campus goals that have been established for the campus by the committee.
The other two components that you see here on this slide that are part of the framework really center around data collection and data analysis, and as I mentioned, campuses are developing goals that are data-driven and actively measuring progress toward meeting those goals and making program adjustments over time as needed that's based on data.
So this process was really sort of designed in such a way that at any point in this process, the committee is able to make changes at previous stages, and so that really does make this framework dynamic in its application, which is necessary when you think about sort of the ever-evolving nature of the school environment.
So, at this time, I'm going to turn it over to my colleague, Dr. Fronius, to present some of the preliminary findings.
>> Thanks, Kathy.
Let me just pull up the slides, here.
I will jump in here.
So as Kathy was pointing out early on, there were a number of data sources for the impact evaluation portion of this study.
Many more informed the implementation study going on through Texas State University, but today we're going to focus on two specific sources of data that are informing WestEd's impact evaluation.
The three data sources are officer encounter logs, so in each of the implementation years, 2018, 2019 and 2020 with an asterisk that we'll talk about, we collected officer encounter logs completed by officers that recorded over a 2-week period all of their encounters with students, staff and parents, and specifically, we'll highlight some of the student encounters today.
We also collected school discipline data, school administrative data, including behavioral incidents and discipline actions from each of the 25 schools that were involved in the study to look longitudinally at a student-level disciplinary outcomes.
And then, finally, the student survey.
We collected -- So this was sort of a cohort design where we worked with sixth, seventh and ninth grade students during the spring of 2018 to collect baseline data, and then subsequently in 2019 and our spring 2020 data collection was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and as a result the school closure, so we had to adjust on the fly and ended up pushing that survey data collection to the fall between October and November 2020.
The topics from the survey we'll touch on in a later slide, but they include victimization and delinquency.
We also collected the administrative data focused on the school discipline and referrals to justice system, as well as school climate and related measures and student perceptions of school-based police.
So, again, the next set of slides I'm just going to quickly go through to document the roles and activities of school-based law enforcement.
Again, it was a 2-week observation period, and we documented as many and, ideally, all of the student encounters that officers had during that period.
Today I'm presenting on the spring 2019 data collection, and that was approximately 1,000 encounters across schools.
So what you'll see here, officers view themselves as more than just enforcement in most of the encounters, so it was only about a third of all encounters where officers viewed their role as exclusively one of being law enforcement.
The majority of the encounters included other role types or some combination of the three primary role types, educator, counselor, informal mentor or law enforcement officer.
And then roles within encounter type, so within each encounter, we had the school-based law enforcement document the type of encounter it was, and while we won't go into today the specific example of the encounter that they engaged with, these included proactive encounters.
Could be, you know, engaging students in an informal greeting in a hallway or classroom, sitting with kids at lunch, et cetera.
Instructional, going into classrooms or working with small groups of students around a specific topic.
Prevention, which could relate to students' social, emotional and mental well-being, and then disciplinary encounters that are more traditionally thought of in terms of the law enforcement role type.
The other question that we had for officers that I think it's important to understand is how long the encounters lasted and within the role type, and what we see here -- It was a lot of select all that apply items, so it's, I know, a bit difficult to understand the percentages and how they relate, but visually, what we're representing is that the proactive encounters, the majority of those encounters last less than 20 minutes and really skewed towards less than 5 minutes whereas contrastly the disciplinary encounters last longer than an hour, and some of that might have to do with paperwork that's related, additional follow-up, et cetera, so the takeaway here is, if there's effort put into effective prevention, not only does it reduce the need of disciplinary-type encounters, but that time can also be redistributed for additional proactive efforts within the school.
Oop, all right.
So Kathy already described this.
We had 25 schools within the study.
These were all within Central Texas, really kind of centrally located around the San Marcos campus, Texas State campus, as well as the School Safety Center.
There was six school district partners, 25 schools in total, 13 treatment and 12 control schools and approximately 10,600 students, 10,700 students.
A lot of information on this slide, so I'll just quickly breeze through it.
I think what I'd like to highlight is this maps back to Kathy's description of the framework, including the objective, measurable goals that schools within the treatment campuses were asked to set and how those might relate to the measures for the outcome study, so for example, within delinquency some schools may have identified decreasing alcohol and drug offenses by a certain percentage and to accomplish that would be through doing grade-level drug and alcohol awareness assemblies that the SRO is involved with, and we were measuring delinquency as a result of that goal and activity.
So getting into the results, I'm going to start by just giving a brief look at descriptive trends from the baseline through the two follow-up periods.
What this highlights, as I quickly skim through them, is that the treatment and control groups appear quite similar at baseline, which is good and also across outcomes, and the trends are really similar over the course of this study, and we'll get into some interpretation of that at the end of the discussion.
So just kind of going through, mapping back to those scales that we previously established for measuring.
And you have -- I know the contrast in color is pretty close.
The treatment is on the left, and the control is on the right for each year.
And so to dig a little bit more deeply into this, today we're presenting school- level results from the study.
We attempted to collect student-level longitudinal data, but the student identifier that was mapped across years was -- There was quite a bit of variability in the accuracy of those student IDs on certain campuses and schools that prohibited us from looking into student-level outcomes using the survey data as of this time.
So what we're looking at now are the school-level averages and regression-adjusted models for schools in the study, and what we find is that the magnitude and directionality of the changes vary within and across the study groups or the treatment and control schools, across outcomes and across the post-test periods so year 1 and year 2.
This first slide shows the percent changes by groups at each post-test period, so baseline to year 1 and baseline to year 2.
What you can see here is the contrast between the two groups.
Baseline to year 1, for example, through victimization decreased for treatment campuses and slightly increased for control campuses, and in year 2, students' self-reported victimization went down within both groups.
Looking at perceptions of school-based law enforcement, from baseline to year 1 there was a reduced perception of school-based law enforcement in both groups but greater so in the control campuses, and that directionality remained constant in year 2, but the magnitude shifted from treatment to control school.
In looking at these percent changes as differences between groups in this slide, this is the differences in percent changes at each of the post-test periods, and you can see these represent the magnitude of differences between the treatment campuses and control campuses of each time period.
And, really, what I want to kind of drive home here is that the magnitude and directionality for several of these outcomes change over time, and as you saw on the other slide even within and across groups, and so we can see probably the highest degree of change in terms of directionality and magnitude relate to the perceptions of school-based law enforcement, and so when we get into what are the implications and conclusions that we draw from it, there's a lot of caveats attached to these findings and some important implications for the next steps for the study.
We looked -- In addition to what I presented on these previous slides, we did regression-adjusted models and effect sizes, and again, like, these descriptive findings, the level of magnitude directionality is quite different across time periods, as well as the confidence that we have in them.
The confidence intervals are extremely wide in band and lead us to very limited confidence in the school-level outcomes.
Within the first post-test period, there was an initial implementation lag where treatment campuses -- It took several months to get off the ground in terms of the initial meetings and some of the training, and so the implementation year 1 was just get going, really, in winter going into spring when students were surveyed in post-test period one.
And then the school closures that I mentioned earlier impacted both the year 2 implementation in terms of the goals and activities that treatment campuses had established, as well as the data collection period.
We had to push that out to fall 2020.
And, frankly, there was a lot of exogenous and potentially confounding factors that might relate to the outcomes that we're looking at, and, you know, ideally these would be distributed evenly across the treatment and control campuses, but given the uncertainties around safety generally for students in the COVID era, as well as some of the social and racial justice issues that took place between the time schools closed and the time were able to survey students in the fall, including perceptions of police generally and the role of police in schools, there's a bit more to dog into there.
So our next steps are to look at the student-level impact estimates for disciplinary and behavioral outcomes and then do some exploratory analyses, including looking at strong implementation sites and item-level analyses.
And I think that's all I have.
So I'll stop sharing there and pass it off to you, Nadine.
>> All right.
Thank you, Trevor, and thank you, Kathy.
We really appreciate that presentation.
Our last presentation but certainly not the least is going to be by Dr. Joseph McKenna and Dr. Anthony Petrosino.
So just a little bit of background is that NIJ was asked to write a report to Congress that kind of summarized what we know about the roles, training, impacts of school resource officers, and so Joe and Anthony have been working on this with us for that amount of time.
So they're going to give you an overview of that work that's called "An Examination of School Policing Programs: Where Have We Been and Where Do We Need to Go Next." So also caveat: Joe is in Texas, and so we're hoping that his power holds out and that he's able to be with us, but if not, we have a backup plan, so I will turn it over to Joe.
>> Thank you, Nadine.
Yeah, I've had power for about an hour now, so we're getting close probably to it going out again, so we'll certainly work through this.
As Nadine said, Anthony and I have had the opportunity to work on this with NIJ, and I think it really is a good -- >> Joe.
Joe, one quick -- You're in presenter mode.
I don't know if you can -- >> Oh.
>> Yeah, just so we can see the -- >> Sorry about that.
>> That's what happens when you miss the -- Here, let me try this.
>> Bear with us 1 moment, folks.
In the meantime, we are using the chat and the Q and A function, so if you have any other questions, feel free to include those there so that as we get to that portion of the session, we can continue to have a interesting dialogue on these topics.
>> Is that better? >> Yes.
>> That's great.
>> Sorry about that.
So, yeah, good afternoon, and again, thank you, Nadine, for the introduction.
Yeah, this is a project that fortunately we've been working on now for quite some time, and, you know, just like others have prefaced theirs, ours has gone through COVID, as well as many of the racial injustice and the protest certainly occurring across the country, so we've had to take some of those considerations, but it is a perfect, I think, kind of conclusion to many of the projects that we heard about here so far, and I think I'll draw some parallels between our work that we're finding in the review of the literature and some of the more recent studies that you've heard about.
Let me see if I can progress.
So we first -- You know, when we tackled this project, we wanted to look at the history of school policing in the United States and kind of, you know, see where we've come from, what can we learn from that as we go through the literature and put that into context, and I think many of us probably know some of this history now.
I think it's been out there, and it's been belabored, you know, to some degree in the research literature, but we kind of traced it back to the 1950s with this program called the Police School Liaison Program and really a partnership between a community police department, a local police department and a school district who wanted to bring -- for the safety of their children, wanted to bring police into their schools.
Soon after that, we saw that kind of just -- You know, the popularity we kind of began to spread, and we saw Arizona, Florida, other states start to adopt similar programs, and in the '60s, we got the term I think that many of us are familiar with, the school resource officer, or SRO.
Interestingly, you know, we're going to -- I'll make a parallel later when we talk about roles, but, you know, as we got into the '60s, '70s, '80s, we started to see different versions of school-based training programs for kids, programs like G.R.E.A.T.
that actually brought law enforcement into the classroom to educate kids, so we saw a little anecdotal bump there of increased use of police, some for these reasons, some for other reasons, but these programs we think certainly had some contribution to that.
And then late '80s when we get into the '90s, we saw more federal support around community-oriented policing, different hiring initiatives, various programs and acts of Congress that made using police in schools easier I guess you could say for school systems to adopt and implement.
And then certainly it's been mentioned in some of the other presentations, certainly the perceptions of school violence as well as the tragedies that we've seen at Columbine initially in 1999 as well as several others, you know, obviously most recently with Parkland and Santa Fe have kind of driven that.
I think, you know, when Anthony and I looked at some of the policy literature, I think almost following every school shooting event, there was some form or fashion of a mention of increasing school police, and so we kind of continue to see that.
The prevalence of school police, the data out there is interesting, so we don't have great data in our opinion.
There was a survey that was done in the mid 2000s, the LEMAS survey that captured some of this, but that's since been discontinued.
I know there are efforts I believe through BJA and others to get some better data on this, but we really have -- You know, we're really relying on anecdotal kind of sources to estimate the number of police.
We don't have -- These are local decisions in many cases and often don't necessarily have to get reported to some agency that we can get data from.
We then looked.
We called it models of implementation, different ways in which police are implemented in schools, and certainly the two that we're probably most familiar with are the SRO or the contracted model where an officer is essentially loaned from a local police agency or sheriff's department to provide services to that school district, and those agreements vary.
The school-based is when a school district, and certainly in Texas we have quite a bit of this.
In many urban areas, you'll see school district police departments that are police departments, as you would imagine, run by the school system themselves, but even within these two models, when you look across, there are various implementations strategies in terms of officers being assigned to specific schools or roaming between schools or some full-time or part-time or reserve officers.
There's probably hundreds of permutations of how school districts and police departments have partnered together to actually implement the use of police.
So one thing again I think for a good conclusion to this panel because one of the things that we've noticed as we went through some of the literature is there is a move towards a more development of a framework, so I think Cathy's work with Trevor and others is certainly something that we've seen not only from that project but several others where there's a push to develop a looser set of framework or guidelines that can be adopted by many with the ability to have some differences because, you know, obviously we know that every local school district and police agency is going to have some different needs in terms of why they may be implementing police, but if we can put the best practices or promising practices in place, I think we see the research literature going towards the more development of a framework that can be put in place with some flexibility.
And then the focus certainly I think behind the driving need for a framework like this is focusing on aligning some of those positive outcomes as well as limiting or eliminating if possible any of the known negative outcomes that we know may be attributed to police in schools.
Certainly, Dory, I think you did an excellent job covering some of this as well as Jessika on the roles and activities.
You know, historically we've kind of relied on this triad concept of law enforcer, educator and informal counselor, but I think, you know, what we've seen lately in the literature is that there's role confusion.
There's role conflict.
There's a whole lot going on for officers.
In some cases, I think it was Jessika who pointed out they feel as if they're doing everything, and in some cases, they may be, so we've certainly noticed that there's this idea of expanding and/or changing roles where officers, it was more of a laundry list when you kind of look at the different studies out there, and even in the field itself, I think if you talk to officers, I think their list is growing in terms of what they feel their role is, and certainly I think that's often contrasted with what police do in the community generally, and I think if you look at the policing literature on role conflict, police have always had role conflict to some degree, and I think that may be further exacerbated in a school setting.
Then we also looked at training.
I think one of the probably the most common or most agreed upon statements that we found both from the research and from the policy side was the need for some specialized training in school policing.
I don't think there was any disagreement that some form of specialized training is needed for this group if they're going to go into schools.
When we get into topics and the how is where there was still some disagreement that we saw.
The training topics ranged from, you know, trauma-informed care like we saw earlier, adolescent, you know, development, youth mental health first aid, a variety of different topics, conflict resolution, restorative justice.
Again, there was a laundry list.
Where it got interesting was, how do officers get this training? In my next slide, I'll show you some barriers, but there are fed agencies, federal groups, associations like NASRO.
Many states now have adopted different training curricula that they implement.
One of the things that we put in the report was an appendix that has a table of what all states require training and different elements related to school policing.
But we had a series of meetings along with the writing of this report that brought together both policy and policy practice, those in the field as well as those doing research in the field, and I think this has probably stood out the most was the struggles with training, so the fact that many times it's optional, or we've kind of coined the term I think from that meeting series was one and done.
You know, many times, officers have to do this training once, perhaps at the start of, you know, their school policing career, and then that's all they ever have to do.
They have to do this 20 hours or this 40 hours, whatever it might be, and I think we all agree that there are some challenges and problems potentially with that because we do know information changes.
Time and funding as you could imagine was always, and so I think, you know, work like Dorothy's is interesting because it maybe allows it to be more accessible, but again, one of the things that came out of the meeting was if it's not required, the department or the school district is going to be much less likely to let an officer go for optional training per se because that's time away from the campus.
That's time that they essentially need to cover for the school perhaps, so it was interesting, and then really, you know, we didn't see much in terms of evaluation or impact on training, so again glad to see here in some of the presentations that work happening because we have a lot of training programs that I think have been implemented with good intention but really no data to see if it's kind of, you know, transferring into behavior once the officer comes back onto campus.
So then Anthony, you know, did a great job on this section in going through the impacts literature, and, you know, there's a couple different ways to sum it up.
It's not good.
There's really a lack of, you know, support for school policing programs.
There are differences as we note here by racial and ethnic groups.
We saw differences urban, suburban.
I think there's quite a bit of disparity amongst the outcomes, but generally there's not a whole lot of support, and then obviously I think we know there's quite a bit of literature on the increase in exclusionary discipline and arrest, but what we do note and we'll talk about it a little bit in our findings is that there are some gaps that we think need to be addressed in this literature, and through this report, we hope to bring some of those to light.
So that was kind of the first half of the report.
I think the first charge for NIJ was to kind of review what was out there.
The second piece was, in my opinion, probably the more important piece is to make some recommendations on, what do we do now? Knowing kind of all that body of work that I just discussed, what do we do now? So here are kind of some foundations that we built our recommendations on, so obviously we know we have to be mindful of the history of school policing.
We don't want to ignore that.
I think, you know, we can learn some things from that as to the reasons why, things that perhaps didn't work well or did work well.
There is a lack of consistency certainly, and I think that's been brought up many times today in terms of how these programs are set up and operated which creates issues both in terms of policy and practice but also on the research side.
It becomes very hard to compare successful programs to nonsuccessful programs and vice versa.
Again, we talked about the training issue.
There's a clear lack of consistent defined training, so officers, again, are operating very differently even within the program itself, and then we have to acknowledge that right now, the knowledge base is not promising, but, you know, we do know that there are some gaps, and we do try to draw those out in our recommendations.
So just to kind of sum that up, we focus on two things, and then I'll just generally share our recommendations with you.
We want to focus on identifying specific research areas, and I think we were careful to say specific research areas that, you know, really need to be addressed that we think will advance the field, you know, further, and we want to make sure that there's a certain level of rigor in these designs.
I think there's been much better work recently, but I think much of the work maybe early on in school policing struggled from data issues and methodological issues just based on the nature of the research.
And then we wanted to make sure that we try to balance this report and really make sure that there was some practical considerations to ensure that the best possible program is put in place based on what we currently know.
So we made five recommendations, so dedicate and sustain funding for the study of school policing programs that supports targeted research which will improve the existing knowledge base, so this really focused in on we draw out some of the gaps in the existing knowledge base.
We really think that the existing work, again, although it has come a long way, does not really account for some of the differences in implementation, some of the individual officer characteristics that we think would likely impact some of those outcomes of interest in these studies, so we do focus in on that.
Related to that, again, we really stress the need to focus on rigorous and appropriate research designs, and again, some of this is a data challenge, is an issue with, you know, just the nature of this type of research but really focusing on some of the more rigorous designs that we can implement to really make sure that we're getting some good quality evidence.
Recommendation three, this is an area that really started when we were putting the pieces of this report together, started to transcend really all aspects of the report, all sections of the report.
There's really little, not a whole lot of work on the selection of officers.
How do I become, you know, a school resource officer or join a school district police department? It really is kind of glossed over.
We kind of pick up even on the policy side and the practice side, we kind of pick up with the MOU is kind of where you start to see some of the first suggestions.
Make sure you have an MOU.
Well, before that or through that process, there needs to be a selection process, and this does vary.
You know, just anecdotally from my experience, you can be assigned to be it and not have no interest in being an SRO.
You can have some departments that are very competitive where these are highly sought-after positions because, you know, the hours are pretty good.
You get to work, you know, 8 to 4, 8 to 5, but that selection process of really right down to the characteristics of what do we want in a school resource officer is really lacking, so we think that there is a whole bunch of work that needs to be done there both on the research and the practice side.
We really wanted -- Again, I think I made this point earlier, but training for officers really needs to be specific to what they're doing in their specific school.
Again, there is going to be variation, and I think we have to acknowledge that there will be some variation in what officers do in different local school districts, so these blanket programs, even state-wide programs, curricula, although they may be good as a baseline, that is usually, in our opinion, not going to be enough to really make sure that an officer is doing their best work for those students, so it's really specific to their duties and their specific work in that school, and again, that kind of needs to be defined before you can send an officer off to get some training.
And then our last one, and this really speaks to some of Cathy and Trevor's work that they mentioned, we really need to focus.
Our final recommendation is to really focus on a test, you know, implementation and test of consistent set of implementation characteristics, so we can start to test, you know, very broad characteristics as opposed to maybe some more detailed specifics that are not going to be, you know, maybe achievable in every local situation so things like, you know, setting goals, developing an MOU, selection, you know, certainly data-driven decisions, setting up a structure like that that can be adapted and kind of fit into local situations, so we really think that there's some promise in focusing work there.
And then just some conclusions that we made, there are certainly kind of two ironies here as Anthony and I talked about wrapping this report up a couple months ago.
You know, there's popularity in the use of school police we've seen from the field itself, although you could argue to some degree that that might be changing now.
Certainly again, some folks I mentioned earlier that we've seen school districts decide to move away from police in their schools or discontinue contracts that have existed, but largely, you know, we've seen those numbers increase pretty steadily over the years, and then there's this divide in terms of, you know, the research side in terms of the perceptions in usefulness of school police in terms of achieving some of the outcomes that we think they should.
And so we developed these recommendations to guide moving the field forward both from a research and a practice standpoint and really help, you know, federal agencies as well as state and local jurisdictions make the most informed decisions based on what we know, and again, we really think going forward that anything we develop here on from a research or a policy standpoint really needs to have some flexibility, can't be such a rigid model because, again, the variation across the country in terms of what local school districts and police departments need is vastly different, and so we think the focus on should be on really developing a model that can be adapted and account for those kind of local decisions that need to be made.
>> All right.
Thank you, Joe, for that presentation.
We really appreciate it.
We're going to move onto our question and answer, and there has been a vigorous back-and-forth between our panelists and our attendees and our participants in the audience in the Q and A, and so a lot of the questions have been answered.
I'm going to toss out one question that I had that came through very clearly to our participants, and that's the issue of training, and so we're talking about training a lot here, what you should train, what topics should be trained in for school resource officers, and Joe brought up a really important question about the impact of that training, so we know there's a lot about, you know, comprehending these concepts, but also then, how does that impact what officers actually do in the field? And so especially for Jessika and Dorothy, I'm kind of wondering if you have any thoughts about how the training has impacted individual officers' activities or actions, and we have an audience.
I think Ben Fisher is here and F. Chris Curran, and they've done some research that looked at MOUs between school resource officers and then also looking at the activities that they reported in their logs and finding out that sometimes, you know, they know what they're supposed to do, but their actions don't necessarily match up, so I'm just kind of wondering if you guys can respond or react to just the idea about how training connects with actions and impact.
>> Yeah, so I'll answer that.
My answer will be pretty quick, so our next steps would be to do an evaluation and collect student-level data at the schools where the SROs are at, and so we don't have that data.
I think you're right that we know in behavioral science is that you can increase knowledge and have all intentions, but when it comes down to a scenario interacting with a child, we really have to look at that.
Our aspiration is for this training to one, be mandatory and two, for there to be competency based, so you have an interaction with a kid.
You've taken this training.
You know, then you process with someone whether it's a supervisor to see, did you put that learning into place? So that's aspirational from our standpoint.
>> I can also add.
I think, so we haven't really been able to do too much assessment of the impact in terms of asking police officers about that yet, but in general my impression from our focus group with officers is that there is, and just from our prior work in implementations generally, is trainings are great, but they're like, "We've heard all of this before.
We know we need to be doing this.
We want interactive role-playing, scenario-based applied things," and just really pushing back about lecture-based or content-based pieces, and so I think that's definitely a direction we're going in.
I think the other piece that really stands out to me is, these officers are really stressed and traumatized by their work, and they can know all of the things they need to be doing, but there also needs to be some component on stress reduction, wellness and how to function in that kind of an environment where they're really getting resources for their own support and mental health because the situations that we've seen where officers have acted out or there have been situations of assault, they were seriously under duress, and I think that's a huge piece that is not getting any attention or not sufficient attention, I should say, where we are so.
>> Nadine, if you don't mind, if I could add onto that, one of the things we heard and I know some of you were part of the meeting series that we did as part of this report is that several of the officers mentioned that, you know, they may go to training, and they may have a really good idea, but when they come back, you know, administration, higher-ups at the school district are very apprehensive to engage in a new program or whatever it might be, this new, you know, piece of knowledge that they gained, so, you know, I think certainly something that we mentioned in the report is to make sure that there's some level of we called it co-training where each side kind of knows not only the skills and abilities, but hey, if I'm going to go to this new concept and I'm going to bring it back, let's make sure the educators have some level of understanding of how it's going to impact their work so there's some uniformity going forward.
Right, thank you.
That's all very helpful, and obviously we have much work to do in this area, so anonymous attendee, I don't know who you are, asked, is there a link to this research? And so for the research that's been published, you'll find reports that NIJ has received.
I'll point you to the resource page on the NIJ website.
For the reports of Congress that Joe and Anthony Petrosino have been working on, that's not published yet.
It's working its way through our review processes.
We're getting comments from our federal partners and things like that, but as soon as it is official, we would post it on the NIJ website.
And, Mo Kennedy, good to see you, Mo.
I'm glad that you were able to make it.
He says he joined a little bit late, but he wanted to ask, was there any data presented regarding school-based arrests specifically who's actually making arrests.
Is it SROs, or is it patrol officers or investigators, et cetera? So I don't know if any of your [Indistinct] were able to analyze that data or were that far.
Maybe Cathy or Trevor, I'm not sure.
>> We have not, and in terms of the sample and school-based law enforcement in the study, there's very little variability in role type there, so we wouldn't be able to get into that type of question.
So John Rosiak asked, has communicating about the progress of your work had any impact on any community calls to reduce police in schools? Anybody want to jump on that one? >> I guess I can answer that.
What I presented today, we've had three peer-reviewed articles, and people have read them, and they have used some of the training in some states on a small scale to address some of the challenges that they were having as far as training, but I don't have a systematic review of, you know, that impact, but I can tell you people are reading my papers more than they were before I would say.
>> Mm-hmm, for many timely reasons.
So another question that we have is that we really have not heard about the counterfactual, no police or no SROs, armed or unarmed in schools, so those students and parents are calling for this more and more.
The research here today tells me that their impact is mixed at best.
I haven't heard what the field has to say about significantly reducing or removing police and SROs from school buildings and rely on local police precincts for emergencies only.
Any response to that? >> So not related to the study we presented on here today, but I do think that there's been some literature, and Ben and others have pointed to this in systematic reviews, that through quasiexperimental design have looked at the presence of law enforcement, the funding of law enforcement and established some counterfactuals relative to that aspect of the role, and I think in, you know, being more prospective, there's an opportunity given the current state where there are districts who are removing school police departments.
There's an opportunity for additional types of studies that look at that, maybe not through experimental but quasiexperimental methods.
And also, and it stresses I think the point that Joe made previously as they were wrapping up the report.
There's this tension where there is -- It's still quite a popular and well-funded role within schools, and there's a demand for it from certain groups, so it makes it difficult to establish, you know, experimental studies in this sector where there still is that demand.
>> And I think one of the things, Nadine, that came up in some of our conversations was, you know, perhaps this might be the first time that we're really seeing at least in some areas the scaleback of police, so there's kind of a natural opportunity perhaps here to look at, at least a district or a campus that's had police and what that does, you know, kind of longitudinally over the next couple years if they do stick with that decision.
You know, my fear is, as Trevor alluded to, a lot of this is political as well, so God forbid another tragedy happens, you know, how quickly do we switch back? And from a research standpoint, that makes it extremely difficult to really see how something plays out over a longer period of time to really know the impact.
Yeah, thank you.
Yeah, just to point your attention to the chat, I see I think Ben Fisher posted a link to an article that may explicitly look at removing police from schools, so you might want to look at that as well.
Trying to formulate my next question.
I think one of the other things is that what came through in our meeting, so Joe mentioned we had a series of meetings with experts on SROs and that, yes, there are some large jurisdictions who are pulling out SROs from schools and making alternative decisions for how they want to address school violence, but there are also jurisdictions that are increasing or now implementing SROs, and so they may be a little quieter in the news than the other jurisdictions, but it's important to recognize that not all people are responding the same way to the news of the day, the issues that are happening and the challenges that are inherent in having police in schools, so I wanted to make that point really clearly as well.
And I also am curious about the audience.
I know we have a lot of people in the audience who are research experts on school policing and so just if anyone else wanted to share anything from their research or things that they've learned or any kind of, like, last concluding thoughts about maybe what the future of SROs or kind of what they think are important next steps for us other than what's been covered.
>> One of the things I see John Rosiak mentioned in the Q and A was this idea of communication.
I think many times the public, the school district and the contracting police agency have a very different perhaps visual or idea in their head of what the program is intended to do.
You know, certainly I've worked for a school district, and parents want, at least in the school district that I worked, parents were calling for this for very different reasons than, you know, I don't know that we have any evidence to support what they were asking for, but their response was policing, so I do think there's something to be said about a kind of common agreement whether that be through an MOU but even just more just, you know, an understanding, but then that is communicated out to the public.
We talked a lot about this as well as is communicating to parents what SROs do and what they don't do, what are their roles and what aren't their roles.
And I think sometimes, and again, I'm guilty of it, is we stop at the MOU.
We have an agreement.
We put police in schools, and we might have a very well-run program, but we don't necessarily tell the community what they're there for or what their intent is because their intent in different schools may be vastly different.
In an urban school district, it may be very different than a suburban school district, so I think we have to acknowledge that and be willing to communicate and do a much better job, in my opinion, communicating that out.
>> Mm-hmm, yeah.
What a great point to end on.
So thank you, Joe.
Thank you, panelists.
If we were together in a room, I'm sure there'd be, like, a rousing applause for all of you, so I gave you all applause.
I thank you all for the important work that you're doing, for continuing that important work, for being involved in the discussion about the role of school police in our schools and, you know, even in the greater context of the role of policing generally, I think all of your work is going to have much to contribute to that as we kind of move forward in the future.
I thank you all, for people in the audience, for being here.
It's 2 o'clock, so we're going to end the session.
We do have about a 15-minute break before we move onto our next plenary panel.
That next plenary panel will be on an exciting topic.
I thought I had the title, but I don't.
So I encourage you all to take a break and then join us back for the plenary session.
Thank you, and have a great day.
>> Thank you.
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