School Resource Officer (SRO)
What is an SRO?
The SRO Program was first implemented in Flint, Michigan in 1951. Since the program's inception, it has successfully been put into practice in 35 states. Sheriff Truman Jones started the SRO Program in Rutherford County in 1993 with five officers in five schools.
A School Resource Officer (SRO) is a certified police officer who is assigned full-time to a school. For this, SROs receive many hours of ongoing specialized training. The concept is similar to the 'cop on foot patrol', who is familiar with the public on a first-name basis and is sensitive to their particular needs. Like many adults, some students view police officers solely as enforcers of the laws.
By establishing a daily rapport with their school's SRO, students will not only gain a positive role model but also a better understanding of a police officer's many other duties and responsibilities. Likewise, SROs will gain a better perspective of the children in their schools.
By carefully assessing the needs of individual students, SROs will be more aware of the development of unhealthy or destructive behavioral patterns. Through early intervention, it is possible, in many cases, to redirect negative behaviors before they cause a student to be referred to the Criminal Justice System.
The involvement of an SRO extends far beyond the classroom and the normal workday. Officers participate in parent-teacher and faculty meetings, student social and sporting events, and club projects. The presence of an SRO tends to strengthen the student/police bonds and shows the officer's commitment to the students, their education, and their safety.
- SROs are not school disciplinarians. An SRO takes action when a principal requests police involvement in a perceived violation of law or a violation of law occurs in their presence.
- SROs coordinate their activities with principals and staff members and seek permission, advice, and guidance before enacting any program within the school.
- SROs are certified police officers and are sworn to uphold the laws of the state of Tennessee and the Constitution of the United States of America.
- SROs make presentations on various law enforcement-related issues and general policing in order to increase student understanding of the laws, police officers, and the police mission.
- SROs are available for conferences with students, parents, and faculty members to assist them with problems of law enforcement or crime prevention nature.
- At the request of principals, SROs will take action against unwanted guests who appear on campus and at school functions.
- Should it become necessary to conduct informal police interviews with students, it will be done in accordance with state law.
- SROs assist other police officers in matters regarding their school assignments whenever necessary.
- SROs attend and participate in school functions as often as possible.