January 2021

January 2021

Rethinking The Role of The School Resource Officer

From the Director

Happy New Year, and welcome to the January 2021 issue of the NSBA Center for Safe School’s Quarterly Newsletter, a benefit of your subscription.

As last summer began, the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others brought the issues of social justice reform to the front and center. Millions of Americans took to the streets in cities large and small to protest police brutality and systemic racism, leading for many to call for significant policing reform in our communities. These feelings have also carried over into our schools where the conversation surrounds the role of school resource officers (SROs). Public schools were created to provide safe learning environments to evaluate issues that could impact a student’s welfare or impede their success. We must recognize that success requires a group of adults who will consistently reinforce the importance of positive and supportive learning environments and provide an intentional focus on strengthening our communities. We must also recognize that SROs play a pivotal in the success or failure of this goal.

In July 2020, NSBA hosted a webinar, The Transformative Role School Resource Personnel Have in Reopening Public Schools, with national experts that looked at the responsibilities of SROs and their roles in schools. It addressed whether schools should utilize SROs and, if they choose to, what steps need to be taken to ensure that they are positive change agents within the educational community who can help cultivate a supportive school culture. Due to the importance of this issue and its impact on our students and school communities, we wanted to continue these conversations with some of our panelists from this webinar who contributed to this issue.

As we begin the new year, we cannot lose sight of the challenges brought to light in 2020 and the momentum gained to acknowledge and address issues of inequities in our communities and schools. This issue will focus on gaining a better understanding the history and role of the SRO; how communities can determine if SROs should or should not be used in their schools; and when SROs are used, how to successfully implement them to serve as positive change agents.

We hope the articles and resources in this issue emphasize the continued importance of acknowledging and addressing social justice reform in our schools and encouraging conversations in your communities. Please reach out with questions or comments using the online discussion group to engage other subscribers from around the country or via center4safeschools@nsba.org.


Thank you for your continued interest and commitment fostering safe schools for all our students and district employees.

Adam Lustig
Director, NSBA Center for Safe Schools


October 2020
The Value of Sports and Performance Programs: Understanding the Benefits and Prioritizing Programs Through a Pandemic

July 2020
Prevention and Intervention: An Understanding of Behavioral Threat Assessments

May 2020
The COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned

January 2020
Cybersecurity: Understanding the Threats and Risks

October 2019
Rethinking Bullying Prevention


The Role and Preparation of School Resource Officers

By Ashley M. Frazier

There is an opportunity for law enforcement and schools to partner in a way that elevates both institutions and is potentially transformative in building trust and cooperation between community members.

Read More

The Evolving Roles of School Resource Officers For The Next Decade

By Jacinto Ramos, Jr. and Devin Del Palacio

2020 has been a year that has presented education leaders with a series of challenges that prompt policymakers and school districts rethink all areas of our education system. From distance learning to safe learning environments, what has historically been the normal has been upended. Education leaders are facing a reality where administrators, teachers, and students are unsure when normal will return.

Read More

National Statistics and Resources

Although NSBA believes that the use of SROs in schools is best decided at the local level, it is important to note that when SROs are utilized, they should be done as part of a collaborative approach that fully supports students and the school community. The below data references the disparities of law enforcement in schools compared to mental health supports.


  • 1.7 million students are in schools with police but no counselors
  • 3 million students are in schools with police but no nurses
  • 6 million students are in schools with police but no school psychologists
  • 10 million students are in schools with police but no social workers
  • 14 million students are in schools with police but no counselor, nurse, psychologist, or social worker


Source: ACLU Report - Cops and No Counselors: How the Lack of School Mental Health Staff is Harming Students

Additional Resources 

NSBA Webinar:

The Transformative Role School Resource Personnel Have in Reopening Public Schools

July 8, 2020

Public schools were created to provide safe learning environments to evaluate issues that could impact a student’s welfare or impede their success. As we look to reopen schools this fall, keeping in mind COVID-19, racial and mental health concerns, school districts must rethink the role of the school resource officers and school security personnel.

This webinar focuses on the responsibilities of the SRO that are not just aligned to enforcement, such as playing a pivotal role in cultivating a positive and supportive school culture. The webinar will focus on critical issues and the need for investment in proper training/resources for SROs to help rebuild trust and reshape how they are viewed by students and staff, and the community.




Crime and Punishment

October 2020

Crime & Punishment (nsba.org)

As a new wave of the Black Lives Matter movement gains momentum, many schools are considering how school resource officers contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline. In this story, ASBJ examines several stakeholders and school boards weigh their options and attempt to make the best decision for their communities.


ACLU Report - Cops and No Counselors: How the Lack of School Mental Health Staff is Harming Students

This report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reviews state-level student-to-school-based mental health personnel ratios as well as data concerning law enforcement in schools.


COPS Office (usdoj.gov) - Supporting Safe Schools

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) is the component of the U.S. Department of Justice responsible for advancing the practice of community policing by the nation's state, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement agencies through information and grant resources.


The COPS Office supports safe schools by providing grant funds, technical assistance, and resources to help deploy school resource officers (SROs). Learn more about SROs and all its projects and resources that support school safety.


D.A.R.E. America

D.A.R.E. America’s mission is to teach students good decision-making skills and help them lead safe and healthy lives. Founded in 1983 as a program of the Los Angeles Police Department, D.A.R.E. (drug abuse resistance education) was soon adopted by cities across the nation, becoming an independent nonprofit in 1989. Today, D.A.R.E. has a presence in more than 70 percent of the nation's school districts and in forty-three countries. In the past few years, it has expanded its mission beyond drug prevention to focus on protecting students from other dangerous behaviors, while in 2009, the organization implemented a new middle and junior high school curriculum.


National Association of School Resource Officers (nasro.org)

The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) is dedicated to making schools and children safer by providing the highest quality training to school-based law enforcement officers.

NASRO, the world’s leader in school-based policing, is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1991 for school-based law enforcement officers, school administrators and school security and/or safety professionals who work as partners to protect schools and their students, faculty, and staff members.


National Association of School Resource Officers - SRO FAQs

NASRO’s frequently asked questions about the School Resource Officers


National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) - Case Studies of 19 School Resource Officer (SRO) Programs

the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) is a federally funded resource offering justice and drug-related information to support research, policy, and program development worldwide. This report compiles 19 case studies on SRO programs.