Tuesday April 4, 2023

School Resource Officers Are More Than Law Enforcement…They Are Relationship Builders, Community Builders, Counselors and Mentors

School safety has a lot of meanings. It isn’t just about protecting students from predators or from the gun violence we unfortunately see in the news all too often. It is also about helping develop the culture of a school where students feel they are in a safe and trusting environment. An environment where teachers and staff care for them, nurture them and provide them with the support they need, even when school may be the only consistent place they receive this support.

Oklahoma City Public Schools Director of Security Wayland Cubit brought a national training to the district’s school resource officers over spring break that added many of these less traditional skills to what has typically been viewed as the tougher side of school-based policing.

The National Association of School Resource Officer (NASRO) Basic School Resource Officer Course was a 40- hour course and certification delivered to all OKCPS School Resource Officers with the goal of providing tools to equip participants with three distinct, but interrelated roles:  law enforcement officer, informal counselor/mentor and public safety educator.

The training included instruction on adolescent brain development, as well as public safety issues such as mental health, digital culture and safety, human trafficking, substance abuse and suicide. Awareness and understanding of these issues will assist SROs in the schools they serve, and will allow them to follow best practices for de-escalation and other trauma informed techniques. Ultimately, this awareness and understanding will transfer to higher student -led safety and encourage collaborative administrative and classroom management that is safety aligned. The value of building relationships between students and school resource officers cannot be overstated and the short and long term benefits will mean safer schools and safer, healthier students and staffs.

Make no mistake, the training also included critically important behavioral threat assessment, armed assailant response and emergency operations planning. This training must happen and can’t be underscored enough for the ability to save lives when these tragic situations are responded to properly.

The NASRO training is the Gold Standard in the country and OKCPS is setting the standard by training and certifying all of its school resource officers.

The Oklahoma City Public School Foundation was a proud partner in bringing this training to OKCPS, but it couldn’t have happened without the support of The Kirkpatrick Foundation, Express Professional Staffing, Kimray and Rise Café.

It takes all of us to build safe schools. Our school resource officers carry a great deal of responsibility, as do our school staffs and administrators. We as a community play an important role as well. Whether through financial support, volunteering or otherwise, making a connection makes a difference. Our schools can’t do it alone.

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